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USNTDP skater Matthew Boldy earns praise for 'silky-smooth' hands

by RYAN DITTRICK @ryandittrick /

You play the way you practice.

If the legendary Pop Warner could see his words in action with the U.S. National Team Development Program more than a century later, he'd certainly be proud.

"I don't think there's a thing as too competitive," laughed the No. 9-ranked North American skater, Matthew Boldy, "but we do have some guys where...maybe their emotions get the best of them sometimes.

"Myself included.

"You're always moving your feet, making plays, and there's always a winner and a loser.

"It's the best possible way to prep for games."



Certainly, a roster with five or six the first 10 picks in the upcoming NHL Draft, the NTDP was built this way for just that reason.

Jack Hughes, Alex Turcotte, Trevor Zegras, Cole Caufield, Cameron York and yes, Boldy himself, personify a turning point for USA Hockey and the kind of explosive players blossoming under their watch in Plymouth, Michigan.

"I think I've improved a lot, especially the last two years at the program," said Boldy, who had 33 goals and 81 points in 64 games last year - putting him fourth in team scoring behind Hughes, Caufield and Zegras.  

"That has a lot to do with the guys you're surrounded with every day.

"They're always pushing you, and you're pushing them to get better. It occurs naturally. It's a lot of hard work, but I have to give a lot of credit to my teammates, too."

The 6-foot-2, 192 lb. winger brought more than just offence.

He was one of the program's most versatile forwards, playing in a variety of roles including the powerplay, penalty kill, and as a distributor on the flank, on the first, second and third lines.  



He also had a strong showing at the 2019 World Under-18 Championship, scoring three goals and 12 points in only seven games, putting him third in tournament scoring behind…you guessed it, Hughes and Caufield.

Boldy, a Milford, Mass. product that's committed to Johnny Gaudreau's alma mater - Boston College - next season, isn't the fastest guy in the draft, but what he lacks in top-end speed and acceleration, he more than makes up for in hands.

'Silky-smooth' ones, apparently.

"That may have come from me," Boldy laughed when asked of the origin of that commonly referred-to scouting report.

"It was how I grew up, always having elite hands and being able to make plays and slip through people.

"Growing up, when you're so young, you don't even realize it; how good you are, and how good you can be. I tend to work on that stuff every day, fiddling with the puck before and after practice, and doing that, you learn a lot from your teammates. Me and Trevor Zegras like playing around and doing little skill drills here and there, so a lot of it comes from that.

"The same kind of applies to my skating. It's something I've worked on the last couple years and that's where the league's going with how fast it is nowadays. The better you are at skating, the easier the game is for you."



With that kind of well-rounded skill-set, Boldy is what many teams after with a high pick at the draft - a 'new age' power forward, with a savoury blend of vision, power and finesse.

"Being able to use your body, protect the puck and be hard to play against - and to do it in a way that's still super skilled and creative - that makes it a lot harder on the D," Boldy said.

"That's what I can be, and what I believe I can do at the next level."

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