Calgary Flames prospect Jake Boltmann could be a hidden gem
Photo credit:Sergei Belski/USA Today Sports
By Ryan Pike2 months ago
In the 2020 NHL Draft, the Calgary Flames made eight selections. Of those eight picks, six spent time in 2022-23 with the American Hockey League’s Calgary Wranglers and all but one have played a pro game in the team’s system. Five of them have signed entry-level deals with the Flames.
Yet to play a game within the Flames’ system is University of Notre Dame blueliner Jake Boltmann.
Back in the 2020 draft, the Flames originally had the 19th overall selection. They traded down twice – from 19th to 22nd in a swap with the NY Rangers, and from 22nd to 24th in another swap with Washington – and added a pair of third-round picks from their moves. The first third-rounder, 71st overall, was used to select Jeremie Poirier. Their second third-rounder, 79th overall, was used to select Boltmann.
Poirier was highly-touted in his draft year as a dynamic offensive player, albeit one with some defensive foibles that needed to be smoothed out. Boltmann was quite the opposite, which may have been the thing that appealed to the Flames. Here’s how Flames director of scouting Tod Button described Boltmann to the media right after his selection:
“He’s a really good skater. He’s a move-the-puck and follow the play up the ice-kind of defender rather than a puck-carrier or rusher. A real solid team guy. There’s going to be a spot for him at the NHL level if he continues his development.”
A right shot blueliner and a product of Edina, Minnesota, Boltmann captained his high school team and moved into the USHL during his draft year. The season after his selection, he moved into the NCAA during the mid-year semester break, playing his first college game on Jan. 9, 2021 in a win over Arizona State.
Through two and a half seasons in college hockey, here’s what you need to know about Boltmann: he’s been a reliable two-way presence for the Fighting Irish, playing 96 games, working their penalty kill and serving as a stay-at-home defender on all three of their pairings at any given time. He’s amassed two goals and 18 points in his collegiate career.
“I know I’m never going to be a guy that goes end-to-end and scores goals and has a crap-ton of points,” said Boltmann following the final day of Flames development camp. “That’s never going to be my game. My game’s being hard to play against, being physical, blocking shots, just trying to stop the top lines on the other team. That’s what I take pride in, that’s what I try to do as much as possible for my team because winning hockey games, there’s nothing better than that.”
While the defensive game is his bread and butter, Boltmann noted he’s been working on the offensive side of things, too.
“I think what I’ve been progressing with is just puck touches,” said Boltmann. “I need to get a lot better at that, too, just breaking out pucks, making things simpler, getting pucks through from the point. A lot of things like that I just need to get more comfortable with the puck and I think that’ll add a bit of growth to my game, too.”
Is Boltmann going to be the next Etienne Morin or Poirier and explode offensively? Nope. And the Flames probably have a bunch of guys within their system that are better-suited to running a power play. But even more than the likes of Ilya Solovyov or Yan Kuznetsov, Boltmann is a throwback: a physical, shutdown defender who relishes that part of the game.
And as much as teams need dynamic players on their back ends to add an element to their offensive attack, they also need guys that can take care of their own end, too.
A two-time conference all-academic player (in two full college seasons), Boltmann snuck away from summer school classes at Notre Dame to attend development camp, and he’s headed back in the fall for his senior year – he’s set to graduate in May with a business degree.
“Time flies by, I feel like it was just yesterday when I was still playing in Lincoln [in the USHL], and now I’m going to be a senior this year at Notre Dame,” said Boltmann. “So it’s pretty crazy how quick it goes by. I feel really good about my game. These camps really develop you and get you ready for the pro level of hockey. NCAA hockey is awesome. I love playing at Notre Dame. All the guys there are unbelievable, so I have a great time. I feel really good about where my game’s going. It’s been a good camp and hopefully just keep taking steps to have a good year this year.”
While Boltmann’s offensive numbers aren’t anything to write home about, his defensive acumen makes him a prospect worth keeping an eye on this coming season.
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