Canucks claim Reid Boucher on waivers

It was announced this morning that the Vancouver Canucks had claimed forward Reid Boucher on waivers from the New Jersey Devils.

Boucher had been previously waived by New Jersey in early December, and was claimed by the Nashville Predators.  Nashville then placed him on waivers on January 2nd, hoping to send him to the AHL, but New Jersey claimed him back and then placed him on waivers the next day.

This time, the Canucks claimed the 23 year old winger.

Given that the New Jersey Devils were the claiming team, and they had previously waived him, had they been the only team to claim him on January 2nd, they could’ve just assigned him to the AHL. This means that another team, with a lower priority had placed a claim on the forward. That team could’ve been the Canucks, but we will never know.

Yesterday, I had suggested that the Canucks place a claim on Ty Rattie, who was also on waivers and was claimed by the Carolina Hurricanes. But taking Boucher is a worthwhile venture. The 5’10” winger, who can play both sides, has 12 goals and 18 assists in 85 career NHL games. Like Rattie, Boucher has put up points at the CHL and AHL levels, but just hasn’t been given a full opportunity.

His versatility of being able to play LW and RW, and his age of 23 makes sense for the Canucks. It gives them a forward who has shown that he can keep up at the NHL level. If they can provide the forward with a larger role, there may be more to give.  Looking at his underlying numbers, Boucher has produced at a second line rate for his career, and his shot generation rate is very favourable.

Story 1

Boucher will be an RFA at the conclusion of the season and he carries an annual cap hit of $715,000.

This is something that I have been advocating for the Canucks all season, grab a player on the waiver wire who has upside. If he doesn’t work out, then you just let him walk at the end of the season, but if he shows the same offensive upside that he given at lower levels, then it adds a depth player for free.

The Canucks now have 46 contracts for this season, 4 below the maximum of 50.

There is a lot to like about this move, and no risk for the Canucks.

  • Spiel

    But, but, you said they should claim Rattie and made no mention of Boucher.

    Boucher seems to have been more productive than Rattie in the NHL and equally productive in the AHL.

    Who is better CA writers: Boucher or Rattie?

    • Ryan Biech

      It’s the same thought process, about adding a young(ish)player with upside for zero asset cost.

      I wrote the post due to the obvious Baertschi/Rattie connection – figuring that was an angle that was worth talking about. Regardless, the Canucks adding someone like Boucher or Rattie is a good thing.

      Hard to define ‘better’ given that neither has played 100 games. Boucher gives more versatility, which is something that the Canucks obviously value.

  • Killer Marmot

    Hockey’s Future says this…

    Boucher has shown he is quite the capable scorer. His best asset remains his lightning-quick, accurate shot. He demonstrated his quick hands and vision and made the transition to the pros. Whether it’s in-tight or from the outside, Boucher seems to find the quality scoring areas. Boucher was not intimidated battling against bigger opponents for loose pucks and did not shy away from contact. While he had made great strides to improve his skating, it is not up to par where it needs to be.

    In the third year of his original three-year entry-level contract with New Jersey, Boucher has shuttled between the Devils and AHL affiliate Albany in 2015-16. One of several young forwards in the Devils’ organization looking to earn a full-time NHL spot, the 22-year-old is a gifted offensive player but continues to work on consistency in all three zones. Long-term he projects as a second or third line forward capable of chipping in offensively for a franchise sorely in need of scoring.

  • Friendly Neighbourhood Canucks fan

    I love the move. I’m sure everyone is happy with us taking this low risk move except for whoever gets sent down. Now with Hansen to IR I don’t think they need to move someone but I do want Boucher to get the opportunity to play. Claiming him just to sit him for a couple weeks then trying to send him back down is not great for the player. Hell it’s happened to him twice now! Let’s see what he’s got

    • Ben Kuzma on TSN radio had the point that Rodin is still in pre-season mode while most opponent players are in mid-season shape. Desjardins may not want to risk his job to see how Rodin performs.

      Based on Boucher’s NHL stats and Next Ones prospect report, it sounds like he is a goal scoring winger that needs significant ice-time (at least 3rd line minutes) and a set-up man to be effective. Ceiling is likely a middle-6 scorer and a defensive liability due to a lack of speed (and possibly more, like defensive awareness?). If Desjardins keeps him on the fourth line (8-10 minutes per game), I wouldn’t be surprised if Boucher is a non-factor.

  • TheRealPB

    A bit surprised to see him bounce around so much given that he managed decent production in half a season last year. These kinds of claims make so much more sense than some of the flotsam on the waiver wire. I get the attraction of Rattie given his history with Baertschi but I think continuing to build the Horvat pairing makes more sense. This probably has something to do with Rodin’s uneven recovery from injury. I would like to see Chaput demoted — Megna has shown something but Chaput has taken some costly penalties which are not great given his fourth-line role. It would be interesting to see either Rodin or Boucher given a chance on the Sedin line.

  • Killer Marmot

    Even playing half a season, Boucher was sixth in goals and seventh in points for the Devils last year. You would have thought he would have had a position secured on a team desperate for talent.

    So what happened? Why has Boucher been a healthy scratch for so many games this season?

    My impression is that he’s not in shape, but it would be good to hear from someone who has followed him.

    • Dirty30

      A Devils fan site talked about this … seems Quenville was coming off injury and a couple other guys were showing more with their limited minutes than Boucher so he got sent to the minors — and claimed before he got there. Fans complained a lot about asset management and how Boucher should have been packed in a trade rather than waived.

      Mixed reviews over there, but he had something everyone liked — shots and scoring, but not great skating.

      He may not be a Sedin fit, but may with Bo and Baer he provides another level of attack.

      Interesting pickup nonetheless.

  • Fred-65

    Utica bound for Gaunce. He doesn’t need to clear waivers and besides as much as I like the guy he hasn’t made a spot for himself. Frankly IMO both Chaput and Megna have outplayed Gaunce. Hard to say but for some reason Gaunce will not finish his checks and doesn’t always react well on the fore check IMO

    • TrueBlueGreen

      I think Gaunce is playing great! Heavy hitter, big body, taking every minute of ice time her gets from Willie and making the best of it. Also getting PK time. I’m digging this guy!

  • TD

    Rodin and Boucher both need to play on one of the top 3 lines to see if they can contribute. Neither are fourth line players. Rodin with the twins (when and if his health and conditioning allows) and Boucher with Horvat and Baertschi. I like Burrows on that line now, but the team has to see if these players can be part of their future. Putting them on the fourth line wouldn’t show what they have for skills and abilities. Burrows can thrive on the fourth line and be available for the PK.

    I doubt Willie will do it as it may lessen the team’s immediate chance for success.

    • Bud Poile

      Burrows has always earned his rights on this team while Rodin and Boucher can await their turns.

      The team comes first and young players must be fully prepared to take their opportunities and run when they are presented.

      Noted are Stetcher and Tryamkin in this regard.

    • Freud

      What’s a 4th line player?

      Columbus leads the league and Gagner gets 4th line minutes. Pittsburgh is 2nd in the east and deploys Rust and Wilson, both 5’10. The Rangers are 3rd and deploy Grabner, Pirri and Puempel

      Chicago is 1st in the west and gives Hinostroza, Motte and Schmaltz 4th line minutes. Minnesota gives Erikkson Ek and Pulkkinen 4th line minutes. San Jose is 3rd and deploy Nieto, Karlsson and Wingels on their 4th line.

      Looks like the best teams use guys like Boucher and Rodin on their 4th lines all the time.

      IMO, myths like a 4th line needs to look a certain way is exactly what’s wrong with the philosophy of this team.

  • It’s interesting to see Benning claim Boucher but not Pulkkinen off waivers. Nearly the same age, size, position, minor league scoring aptitude and statistics, cap hit, draft position/year, weaknesses (i.e. lack of foot speed, both need set-up men)…I have to admit that juxtaposing both waiver claim decisions certainly reinforces the criticism that Benning is inconsistent and may not have a clear game plan.

    • Bud Poile

      The needs and wants are continuously in flux.

      Benning is not stuck in Aug.-Oct. 2016 Forever.

      Bringing in a talented winger with 20 goal potential(for free)now that the fourth liners have been thoroughly tested/evaluated is not a bad decision.

    • Killer Marmot

      Even when management does something that seems to make sense, they get criticized.

      There are many reasons that a manager might pass on one player and claim another, often based on information that fans are not privy to. It might have been, for example, that the organization had better scouting reports on Boucher and so were more certain about his strengths and weaknesses.

      At any rate, Pulkkinen is currently riding the bus in the AHL, so Benning’s decision to not claim him does not seem to be an obvious mistake.

    • Steampuck

      Except, you know, they’re different players.

      I’m still giggling over Canucks management trolling CA posts.

      JB: “C’mon, Trev: let me pick up the guy CA didn’t write about. That’ll mess with ’em.”

      TL: “Easy, Jim. We’ve got a hockey team to run.”

      JB: “I dunno. We could spin it this way. We’ve scouted him. He has a good shot and likes to score goals. We think he can be real good for us.”

      TL: “Okay. But just this once.”

        • Killer Marmot

          I would be interested in knowing why the Canucks’ 22-man scouting staff thought Boucher was a better claim than Pulkinnen. That would be more to the point.

          Criticizing management for claiming one player but not another is a little silly, given that we have so little information at our disposal.

        • JuiceBox


          When Pulkkinen became available it was early in the season and the Canucks had a hot mess of wingers to figure out.

          Fast forward to now. Rodin is not yet at 100%, Virtanen is in the AHL, and Hansen oft injured, some holes have opened up in the Canucks line-up.

          • It feels like Benning isn’t using the waiver wire as it was designed. The system allows poorer teams to claim talent from richer teams. We’re not rich in prospects, we can afford to roll the dice on player/prospects that other teams are lamenting about losing (albeit Boucher was one of them but you can add Rattie and Pulkkinen to the list). All on one-year, sub-$925k contracts – there was no long-term impact.

            Is it better to take a risk on a player only when you trade a 2nd round pick for him? Is value only measured by what you give up (I’m being facetious here)?

            Megna, Chaput and Skille could easily be sent down to the minors and brought back up if the waiver wire experiment fails. There is a good chance that a claim that doesn’t work out will be picked up via the waiver system again.

            Much like the trade deadline / rental scenario, feels like Benning is missing good opportunities to build equity. A good GM should take calculated risks and just my opinion but I think his calculations are off when he thinks that the security offered by Megna, Chaput and Skille are worth more than the risk / potential upside offered by certain fringe prospects put on waivers.

          • TheRealPB

            Except that the actual NHL isn’t like playing a video game. Most of these teams have put some kind of investment and scouting into the players it already has on its NHL roster and there’s a reason that most of these fringe players bounce between the NHL and AHL. What’s the last waiver wire pickup that really lit up the league or even stuck with their team? Grabner is the one that I remember after Florida lost him for nothing following the Ballard trade. For us maybe Marty Gelinas, but I don’t remember if we’ve had another.

            How many players have been claimed this season, despite the plethora of CA posts saying we should put in a claim on every one? Burmistrov, Boucher, Puempel, Frk, Etem, and now Boucher. Out of all those many who’ve been put on waivers. Of those that have actually been claimed, three were reclaimed by the teams that had some prior knowledge of them (Frk with Detroit, Etem with Anaheim and Boucher with NJ). Perhaps the rest of the NHL isn’t using the waiver system as you believe it has been designed because it seems as though most of the rest of them are doing the same thing as Benning.

        • Whackanuck

          Boucher does seem to have more advanced NHL cred and NJ didn’t want to lose him. Pulkkinen not so much. It could be timing too as Utica is really hurting right now and could use Megna and Chaput.

          Canucks can always trade him for a 6th rounder at the trade deadline. Or maybe even re-acquire Corrado. 🙂

  • TrueBlueGreen

    Love this move! Can’t wait to see him play. I agree I’d like to see Rodin a little more. Maybe with the twins?

    Also any insight why the Preds or Devils would not keep this guy in the NHL? NJ is hurting bad lately in all positions and play, and Nashville seems to be lacking too. Why give up on this guy Boucher?