Many were curious to see what Reid Boucher would do with the benefit of a full off-season in the Canucks’ organization.
The club had claimed Boucher on waivers in the year prior and re-signed him after a mostly positive, productive end to the season. Now Boucher had to prove that he could do it for an 82-game season, lest he never outgrows his reputation as a quadruple-a player — too good for the minors, not good enough for the pros.
It was Boucher’s age 24 season, which is generally when forwards reach their prime years. If not last season, then when?
Unfortunately, for everyone involved, it wasn’t to be. Boucher cleared waivers as the Canucks made their usual round of pre-season cuts, and he was back in the AHL, with the Utica Comets.
Per his reputation, Boucher was dynamite. In his first five games with the Comets, Boucher amassed eight points, though only two of them were goals. He was their most consistent offensive force, and CanucksArmy’s own Cory Hergott drove that point home regularly throughout the season when I had him on Nation Network Radio. By season’s end, Boucher had 46 points in his 45 games with the club.
If one produces like that, they’re usually going to get at least a cup of coffee in the NHL, though. And Boucher was no exception.
The Canucks called Boucher up to action at least three times throughout the season, by my count, for a total of 20 games.
Boucher wasn’t terrible. Not by any stretch. In his 20 games, Boucher had five points (three goals and two assists) and was mostly invisible — nothing great happened, but he wasn’t on the wrong end of many plays either.
Still, it was something of a step down from the way Boucher closed out the last season. Some if not most of that can be attributed to circumstances beyond Boucher’s control. For starters, Boucher’s most common pivot was Nic Dowd — per Harman Dayal’s Year in Review article on Dowd, he wasn’t exactly an offensive catalyst. Another factor was poor luck. Boucher, who for all his flaws has an excellent shot, only converted on 6.45% of his shots at 5-on-5.
To my surprise, Boucher’s two-way profile was okay. The Canucks controlled 51% of the shots at 5-on-5 with Boucher on the ice, though they were dominated in the goals column.
That’s not overly surprising given the high-risk, high-reward component of Boucher’s game. He’s not a great defender, and a lot happens with him on the ice. So if the luck isn’t going his way, it can get pretty ugly.
It’s hard to imagine how Boucher, who could only get 20 games on last year’s roster, is going to make the jump to a full-time role on next year’s. As my article on the waiver status of the Canucks’ roster shows, it’s an ugly number game, and there are probably going to be players higher on the totem pole than Boucher who find themselves on the outs.
Still, I’ve seen crazier things happen at Canucks’ camp. It wouldn’t be outside the realm of possibility for Boucher to have a good camp and make the team. One can never have too many good shots on the power play, and Boucher’s is downright excellent.
Time will tell. The betting man places his money on Boucher rejoining the Comets, and playing out the season as their go-to guy for scoring and on the power play. At 25-years-old, with skating and defensive issues that aren’t improving, the odds are stacked against Boucher.