2004 Prospects: Q&A with Dave Bolland

By Jason Ahrens





Dave Bolland a center with the London Knights has shot up the rankings<br />for the NHL draft this year

Dave Bolland, a center with the London Knights,
has shot up the rankings for the NHL draft this year. In his rookie year with
the Knights in 2002-03, Bolland saw mainly fourth line duty, which in London
means only a few shifts a game. He was the Knights first round pick from the
2002 Bantam draft, but they decided to break him in very slowly. The native of
Mimico, Ontario came into the league with big numbers from bantam but found it
tough sledding in his first OHL season. In 64 games he scored seven times and
added 10 assists. He had a strong playoff series against both Windsor and
Plymouth and showed that he had the potential for better things. Coming into
this season, few people would have predicted the fairy tale season that has
unfolded for Bolland.

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The sophomore center has been a big part of the Knights
success as they are currently leading the league in points, goals, goals
against and virtually every other statistical category. His play caught the eye
of scouts who finally got a chance to get a real good look at him and in the
preliminary rankings by Central Scouting he was ranked the 6th best
skater in the OHL. A few months later Central Scouting had moved him up quite a
few spots as they ranked him the 6th best skater in North America.
One advantage that Bolland has on his draft class counterparts may be that he
hasn’t been seen a lot, since quite often the more the scouts see a player and
the hype wears off, the more faults they start finding in his game.

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What the scouts have seen in Bolland is a lot of speed, hard
work, grit and the ability to put the puck in the net. Bolland is currently in
a battle for the most goals in the OHL and has 31 goals so far this year, which
currently puts him in third place. Pretty impressive when one considers that he
plays on the third line in London, and is not always on the top 2 power play
units. When he is on the power play he often comes up with good results but
with many talented forwards on the team there is only so much ice time for a
coach to dish out.

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Bolland has shown excellent hockey sense while killing
penalties and uses his speed to break up plays and intercept passes. His
positioning and angles while short handed are excellent and he gives defencemen
fits in the neutral zone. He is often put out against the other team’s top line
because of his hockey sense and willingness to finish off checks. He gives the
checking line a lot more chances to score goals and this gives London a big
advantage when matching lines.

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Bolland is not the biggest guy at 6’0” and 175 pounds but he
did fill out a lot over the summer. Scouts will be keeping a close eye on him
as the league tightens up in the playoff hunt and see how he fares when the
games are hotly contested and there is little room to skate. Since the early
part of the season Bolland has had about 10 more goals than assists and you
might jump to the conclusion that he is not the greatest passer. His passing is
actually fairly decent, as he showed in a recent game against the Sault
Greyhounds where he took a page out of Gretzky’s book and set up shop behind
the net and drew the attention of all the defending players to him until he
found one of his defensemen open coming in from the point and fed him for a
beautiful goal. With his speed he is usually leading the rush and he often
plays with linemates on the third line that think defense first and do not get
into good scoring positions.

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Bolland played for Team Cherry in the 2004 CHL Prospect Game
and picked up an assist in a losing cause. He played a spirited game and drew
the wrath of several opposing defensemen. He had a great skill contest as he
had the second best time in the 60 foot dash, seventh in the 150 foot dash,
eighth in the puck control event and his shot was clocked at 90.8 miles per
hour. One week after the Prospects game he took part in the OHL All-Star game
and picked up a goal and an assist in helping the Western Conference to an easy
7-2 win.

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Hockey’s Future caught up with Bolland after the Prospect’s
Game.

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Hockey’s Future: What was it like playing for Don
Cherry?

Dave Bolland: It was great, he is a good guy, he always got
us going in the dressing room when we were down a bit.

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HF: Was that the
first time that you met him?

DB: No I met him a few years before, I forget where.

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HF: And Bobby Orr?

DB: I met him a few years before at the OHL Bantam Cup.

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HF: It’s been a dream year for you, last year sitting on the
bench, getting 3-5 shifts a game and now you are like third in the OHL in
goals?

DB: Yeah it’s been a big year for me, like you said from last
year sitting on the bench, not sure if I was going to get out there or if I was
going to sit, and now this year, I’m on the power play, PK, and playing a
regular shift out there.

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HF: What was your biggest adjustment coming from Bantam to
the OHL last year?

DB: The speed and the size. When I got here I didn’t weigh
that much and I wasn’t a big boy, and the speed, guys were flying by and I was
just looking at them. It’s a big
adjustment coming from bantam to the OHL.

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HF: In the second half your ice time picked up and you
started to see some time on the power play unit, when did you find your season
turned around for you?

DB: I think in the second half, but in the playoffs, that’s
when (coach) Dale (Hunter) really started to put me in.

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H: You had a great series against Windsor, started to see
your potential
.

DB: It really came out against Windsor, I think he just let
me play.

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HF: Over the summer what were your expectations going into
this year?

DB: This year, it was to get drafted. And for the summer I
wanted to get a lot bigger and put on twenty or twenty five pounds.

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HF: Did you ever think that you would be ranked in the top 6
in North America at this time?

DB: Right now I’m wishing I would go high and it’s starting
to come true.

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HF: The London Knights have put quite a few guys in the NHL
over the last 3-5 years between the Hunter regime and the previous regime. Do you guys have much contact with the guys,
like Rick Nash, John Erskine?

DB: Yeah I talk to Rick Nash sometimes and he tells me what
it’s like up there.

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HF: He is sure having a dream season. That could by guys
like you, Corey Perry, Rob Schremp.

DB: Well that could be us in a few years and it would be
great if it was.

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HF: Your team is a pretty strong team, you are at the top of
the league. What the biggest adjustment that you have to make to stay on top?
Teams are really starting to try the trap against you.

DB: Yeah they are trying to trap us a lot. They are trying to break us down, get the
puck into our zone, when we get the puck we like to get it in their zone and
take it down low to score. I think our biggest adjustment is just getting it in
deep and not letting them trap us.

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HF: You took quite the wicked hit tonight. The guy took a
pretty generous run at you, did it leave any marks?

DB: Yeah a couple of them on my face, but that just comes
with the game.

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HF: You did really well in the skills contest, you charted
pretty high in the shot and the skating categories?

DB: Oh yeah, I expected to do well going in and I was really
pumped up for it and I did well.

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HF: For someone who is not familiar with you, describe your
style of play.

DB: Gritty, I’m a Mike Peca type of player, a lot of
hitting, scoring, doing whatever I can to help the team win.

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HF: You aren’t too shy to use your stick out there to let
guys know that you are around.

DB: Nope I throw it around a bit out there. Yeah it’s part
of the game and that is just the way that I play.

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HF: Who is your favorite NHL player?

DB: Has to be Brendan Shanahan.

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HF: The Mimico connection?

DB: Yeah.

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