How Sharks’ Thomas Bordeleau, Bob Boughner evaluate rookie’s NHL debut

Sharks 2020 second-round draft pick Thomas Bordeleau has had a wild last 10 days.

On April 7, Bordeleau was playing with the University of Michigan in the Frozen Four, where they lost to Denver in overtime. Five days later, he signed an amateur tryout contract with the San Jose Barracuda and made his professional debut in the AHL a day later. On Saturday, the Sharks signed him to a three-year contract and brought him to Minnesota, where he would make his NHL debut on Sunday.

Similar to his final college game, Bordeleau’s first NHL game ended in an overtime defeat, as the Sharks fell 5-4 to the Wild, suffering their 10th straight loss.

Despite the outcome, a lot of good happened for Bordeleau.

The nerves were flowing for the 20-year-old Houston native when he stepped on the ice at the Xcel Energy Center in Saint Paul, but he settled down quickly.

“I felt all right,” Bordeleau said after the game. “Definitely some times I could have made better plays and stuff like that. But it was good to get the nerves out of the way. Obviously a special moment for me and my family. I just wish we could have gotten the win tonight.”

Eliminated from playoff contention and with nothing to play for but pride at this point in the season, the Sharks (29-34-12; 70 points) held their own with one of the top teams in the Western Conference. By taking the game to overtime, the Wild (47-21-7; 101 points) clinched a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

“We gave it all that we had,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said after the loss. “I think with the lineup that we had in and scoring four goals, getting a shorthanded goal, I thought we did a lot of good things. They kept coming and they’re one of the higher scoring teams in the league and this is a good hockey team we just faced tonight.

“We’ve played five games in nine days, we’ve played a lot of hockey with our veteran guys, it was our third game in four nights, a back-to-back, so I think there’s a lot more positive to pull out of this game than negative.”

The highlight of the night for Bordeleau came less than 10 minutes into the first period when he recorded the primary assist on Rudolfs Balcers’ goal that cut the Sharks’ deficit to 2-1.

Bordeleau didn’t get the assist on Noah Gregor’s second-period goal, but he had a hand in making the play happen.

“I thought he did a lot of good things,” Sharks coach Bob Boughner said after the game. “I talked to him after the first [period], of course he was nervous. He said to me, ‘I’ll be better in the second period.’ But I thought he actually had a pretty good first period.

“There’s still some defensive stuff to sort out, but you can tell when he’s out there… I thought he had a hand in both goals his line scored. Patience, awareness, he had a chance to score there in the middle part of the third period, he had a chance at the doorstep. I liked his game. Pretty responsible and for a first game, I thought he handled himself very well.”

Even for the best prospects in any sport, going from the college game to the professional level in 10 days is an adjustment. But Bordeleau held his own in 13:14 of ice time.

So, what surprised him about the NHL game?

“Everything,” Bordeleau said. “It’s the National Hockey League. Guys execute faster. When you make [a mistake], they capitalize a lot more than in college hockey. Definitely a learning process and I’m just trying to get as much experience as I can.”

RELATED: Sharks’ storylines to watch the rest of the season

The Sharks have seven games left this season and they will get a good look at Bordeleau, one of the promising young players they’ve added to the organization over the last few years.

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