When Thomas Bordeleau was drafted in the second round of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft (38th overall), the San Jose Sharks knew they would have to wait a few years to see if the young forward would enter the ranks of professional hockey. Bordeleau was committed to the University of Michigan and no one knew how long he planned to play in the Big Ten before turning professional.
The Sharks were willing to wait.
When he was drafted, Bordeleau was already considered one of the top young forwards in the United States. He was a member of the U.S. Under-17 National Team and was under consideration for America’s team at the 2021 World Juniors until a close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19 caused coaches to cut Bordeleau from the roster.
To the Sharks, Bordeleau’s resume made him seem like a steal at 38th overall when sites like Elite Prospects had him ranked 23rd, NHL Central Scouting ranked him 29th and Future Considerations ranked him 31.
During his first season with the Wolverines (2020-21), Bordeleau was the top freshman in the nation. He led the team in scoring with 8 goals and 22 assists in 24 games. He was named to the Big Ten All-Freshman Team, the All-Big Ten Second Team and was named the Big Ten Freshman of the Year.
He improved during his sophomore season, when he scored 37 points (12 goals, 25 assists). What’s amazing is that Bordeleau was an afterthought on a team that included players like Owen Power, Matty Beniers, Kent Johnson and Luke Hughes. He was a second-round pick in a group full of first rounders.
However, in the NCAA College Hockey Playoffs, Bordeleau proved he could come up big when it counted. He scored his biggest goal during the Frozen Four, tying the game against the University of Denver and pushing things to overtime.
Scott Wheeler of The Athletic said this after the game: “Bordeleau shields and protects the puck so well for a 5-foot-9 player, especially leaning into guys with one hand on his stick. That was my big takeaway from his night. He went to the front of the net to chip in the tying 2-2 goal to force overtime, and he showed some great feel on his passes, but I expect that from him.”
The Wolverines eventually lost the game and Bordeleau had a decision to make. The 20-year-old could leave college for the San Jose Barracuda, or stick around for another shot at a college hockey championship.
On April 12, he signed an Amateur Tryout Contract with the AHL’s Barracuda after just two NCAA seasons. He played two games with the Barracuda and registered three assists in his first ever professional game. Four days later, the Sharks signed Bordeleau signed a three-year entry-level contract with a yearly salary of $925,000.
Bordeleau played the final eight games of the season with the big club, burning the first year of his entry-level deal. He netted 5 assists in that time, but perhaps his biggest impact was a shootout goal that not only won the game, but added a nail in the coffin that was the Vegas Golden Knights’ playoff hopes.
Bordeleau has a professional hockey pedigree. He is the son of Sebastien Bordeleau, who played nearly 300 NHL games with the Montreal Canadiens, Nashville Predators and Arizona Coyotes and the grandson of Paulin Bordeleau, who played a few hundred games of his own with the Vancouver Canucks and the Quebec Nordiques. His experience growing up around former NHL players may help him down the line.
What We Like
Bordeleau is young, confident and has a high hockey IQ. An eight-game sample size isn’t enough to make a final verdict on the young forward, but it did show he thinks about the game at a high level.
Sheng Peng of NBC Sports Bay Area broke down Bordeleau’s first NHL game and pointed out that even when Bordeleau turned the puck over, the problem was in execution rather than not understanding the flow of the game.
Sharks head coach Bob Boughner echoed the sentiment after the game, saying, “[Bordeleau] slows the game down. Makes high-end skill plays.”
Bordeleau’s high hockey IQ was also mentioned by interim general manager Joe Will during the press conference to announce Bordeleau’s contract with the Sharks.
It will be the hockey IQ that helps Bordeleau become a successful professional hockey player. In January, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman ranked Bordeleau 107th on the list of NHL prospects under the age of 23. While he was behind Sharks prospect William Eklund in the rankings, he was ahead of defender Ryan Merkley. Pronman called Bordeleau’s skating above NHL average, while his puck skills, hockey sense and compete were all NHL average.
Areas of Improvement
Bordeleau is small, at just 5-foot-10 and 175 pounds. While Bordeleau will gain some weight and muscle as he gets older, the 20-year-old isn’t likely to get much taller, if at all.
The NHL is trending toward fast forwards who can handle the puck and elude much larger players, but it’s still a big man’s game. Bordeleau will have to use his hockey IQ and his skill to out-play his size.
THOMAS BORDELEAU WINS THE SHOOTOUT pic.twitter.com/PnzV31a7XN— Sharks on NBCS (@NBCSSharks) April 25, 2022
There are plenty of college highlights to choose from, but we’ll go with the best NHL highlight of his young career. The 20-year-old went into a high pressure, rivalry game against the Golden Knights and scored the winning goal.
Bordeleau does not wilt under pressure and that’s good news for the future.