ST LOUIS — Trader Doug Armstrong is at it again. Just a few hours before the NHL draft, the Blues announced they had traded forward Sammy Blais and a second-round draft pick in 2022 for New York Rangers winger Pavel Buchnevich.
And once the draft started, Armstrong stood pat. He kept the pick, making the forward Zachary Bolduc the 16th player taken overall. (Technically he goes into the books at No. 17 since Arizona forfeited his pick at No. 11.)
Bolduc, 18, is 6-1, 175 pounds. In 27 games last season for Rimouski of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, he scored 10 goals with 19 assists. He was rated as the 17th-best player in Central Scouting's final ranking of North American skaters.
COVID-19 issues limited the number of games in the Quebec League, and Bolduc also missed several contests late in the season with a lower body injury.
Nonetheless, he won the Mike Bossy Trophy as the QMJHL's top professional prospect for the 2020-21 season. The previous year, playing a full season in the Quebec League, he led all league rookies in goals (30) and was second in points (52). He earned the Michel Bergeron Trophy as the league's top offesnive rookie.
Bolduc is considered a slick skater with great hands and an accurate shot.
Buchnevich, 26, scored 20 goals with 28 assists in 54 games for the Rangers this past season. To put that in perspective, only Ryan O'Reilly had more goals last season for the Blues; and only David Perron and O'Reilly had more points.
Buchnevich averaged 18 minutes 44 seconds of ice time and was plus-12. In 4 1/2 NHL seasons, he has scored 79 career goals, including a career-best 21 during the 2018-19 season.
"He's got good size at 6-3. He's a left shot, can play the right side," said Armstrong, the Blues' general manager. "He's scored in the league recently.
"He's the right age group for us, what we're trying to accomplish. A very good penalty killer, too. Very underrated penalty killer. So he's gonna touch all aspects of our game. As we continue to retool this roster, I think he's a good piece for us."