By Bryttani Jones
Tampa Bay Lightning superstar Steven Stamkos was the highest goal scorer in the 11-12 NHL season with 60 goals, and is in the lead this season with 16 goals so far. Stamkos also held the record for most goals in a single season for the Sarnia Sting (OHL) set at 58, that was, until Reid Boucher shattered that record with a hat-trick on Saturday night.
“He [Stamkos] was the best goal scorer in the NHL last year. And he set a record here and I have a chance to break it”… “That would be a pretty big accomplishment, so I just hope I can do it” – Boucher.
Boucher has been humble all the way through, so when he shattered the goal mark with games still to play, it was no surprise. He’s locked in and now he has a record to his name.
But the question is, who is Reid Boucher? While I usually try to keep up with all things Devils, this one still had me scratching my head. I hadn’t heard much out of, or about, Boucher since his drafting in 2011 (4th round, 99th overall). And in asking around, not many of my fellow hockey-lovers knew much either. So I took to my computer and started looking in to the play of the talented young player.
Now I already had a grasp on the basics with Boucher… Nineteen year-old from Michigan, played with the Lansing Capitals, spent two years with the U.S. National Team and of course drafted by the Devils, and all that jazz. What I had no idea about were his abilities. After watching some videos and replays of his time on the ice, the only thing I could think of was, “Whoa…” Boucher has an incredibly accurate shot and quick release, and even though he’s not the biggest guy out there at 5’10 – he doesn’t back down from battling for the puck. He is a fantastic handler and knows how to position himself to optimize his goals. I feel he needs quite a bit more work on defense, but he’s still pretty darn good.
His offensive numbers this year are great. He currently has 60 goals and 31 one assists to go along with that. Boucher also has 21 power play points on the season, and is currently plus-14 on the year as well. Last season with the Sting, Boucher, who played with the likes of current Edmonton Oiler Nail Yakupov, had 28 goals and 22 assists for a total of 50 points, but he was a staggering minus-19, which was good for second worst on the team.
Boucher had been getting a lot of heat and was under pressure for not scoring in either of the two previous games, against London and Plymouth. Even I was getting nervous for him hoping he could get back into it and break 57 goals. Then, as of Saturday, March 2nd, Boucher met and exceeded the record after scoring a hat-trick against the Saginaw Spirit. All three of Boucher’s record setting goals were in the second period, and He now holds the record at 60, as of March 5th.
“It’s great to see him achieve what he did tonight. What did it take, five or six years to break Stamkos’ record? It could take 10 years to break the new record. This is a credit to Reid. He worked hard over the summer, shed 20 pounds and got stronger. His hard work has paid off” –Head coach Jacques Beaulieu (quote via www sarniasting.com)
So when will we see Boucher playing at the Rock? His answer was sweet and simple: “Whenever I can. Whenever they’ll take me. Hopefully its sooner rather than later.”
Now a lot of fans are asking the same question… When will Boucher join the ranks with Kovy, Elias, and the rest of the guys? A lot of those questions are due to a recent streak of unfortunate losses by the Devils. Seeing one of our prospects being able to score as much and as well as Boucher, did makes everyone want him to come up and play with the Pros. It’s understand that the Devils need to score more goals, and they so desperately need to get back in the groove, but I don’t think Boucher is the answer right now.
Even with his abilities, he still needs work on defense. He’s not a real hard-hitting player and avoids any sort of fight. He mostly shy’s away from the hits and traffic as well, if he can, and he needs to be a more developed two-way player if he wants to make it in the NHL. Boucher had also suffered from long periods without scoring, and who’s to say he won’t come down with a mild case of stage fright and have it happen again when the Devils really need him?
So… Reid Boucher? I like him – I really do want to see him play with the NJD – But that is a couple years off. He should play with Albany along the likes of the Zajac’s, Whitney, Kinkaid & Frazee and the rest of the team as soon as possible (next season?). Give that a year or maybe two and see how that goes. Once we know he can handle himself, and once we can get him toned up with Defense, he’s bound to be a great one, and I can’t wait to see him at the Rock.