But there wasn’t a single mention of the fact he had been invited to an NHL training camp, word which came out a few days before in a tweet from a member of the coaching staff of the Rimouski Oceanic, the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League team for which Boland had played the last four years
However, the Winnipeg Jets, the team that’s bringing Boland to its rookie camp in early September, are doing so for reasons other than just his mental makeup. The 20-year-old centre from St. John’s had 48 goals and 103 points for the Oceanic last season and just missed out on the 2016-17 QMJHL scoring title, finishing one point behind Vitalii Abramov of the Gatineau Olympiques in a race decided on the last day of the regular season.
And it’s a sure Boland was vouched for by Eric Dubois, an assistant coach with the Manitoba Moose, the Jets’ AHL farm team. Dubois, who happens to be the father of Pierre-Luc Dubois, the third overall pick of the 2016 NHL draft, was an assistant coach for the Oceanic during Boland’s first three years with the team.
“I’m sure that helped,” said the six-foot, 185-pound Boland, who was never drafted by an NHL team,“ but you had to look at the big picture, at (which players) teams had (on their rosters). Plus, Winnipeg had shown a great amount of interest and after talking with my agent, we decided this would be the best place for me to go.”
Boland will travel to Winnipeg on Sept. 7 to begin rookie camp and then move on to Penticton, B.C., where the Jets will compete in a rookie tournament. From there, he’ll be looking to move on to Winnipeg’s main camp, or better still, get a contract offer that will make it worth his while to turn pro.
He’s focusing on his chance in Winnipeg, but there is no doubt university hockey is a possibility for Boland — he is considered a particularly hot commodity in the USports Canadian ranks.
“School is still an option,” agreed Boland, who has already been taking online courses at the University of New Brunswick, “but I haven’t committed anywhere.”
Boland could have received a taste of the pro ranks after Rimouski was knocked out of the first round of the QMJHL playoffs by the eventual league champion Saint John Sea Dogs. NHL organizations routinely add players to their farm teams on amateur tryouts in the spring and Boland considered the possibility of doing that — there had even been talk of him joining the St. John’s IcCaps.
What wasn’t made public at the time was that Boland had been playing injured for much of the spring, suffering with “a shagged-up” hamstring.
“I was pretty banged up at the end of the season. I wasn’t even doing morning skates because it was so painful. I was only skating in games towards the end,” said Boland.
“First we were trying to make the playoffs and then we were trying to stay alive in the playoffs. I had to do what I could to keep going.”
The injury played into his decision to hold off on accepting any pro offers until this fall.
“It seemed to the best option to rest and heal and show them what I was like at 100 per cent, not 70 percent,” said Boland, who has been working out with trainer Mark Nichols this summer.
“I want to be at my best when I do this.”