Does Reid Boucher deserve a roster spot?


It’s no secret that the Devils have some decisions to make when it comes to finalizing a roster for opening night. The most obvious move they have to make is finding a way to get Ryan Carter a contract. They have 14 forwards under contract already so a move will have to be made in order for that to happen. However, after last night’s preseason contest against the New York Rangers, it is clear that the Devils will have to give serious consideration to whether or not Reid Boucher will suit up in the season opener. The thing that works against Boucher is that he has a two-way contract and the team can send him to Albany risk-free. They don’t have to move a player in order to keep him. They could choose to have him further his game in the AHL and call him up when an injury occurs.

Logically, that idea makes sense, but if you watched the game at the Garden… you want Boucher to make the team. This kid is ready for the big time. In no way am I saying he’s an all-star or anything, but he can more than hold his own in the NHL. Boucher had a cup of coffee with the Devils last season where he played in 23 games and had just two goals and five assists. It was clear he needed more seasoning before he could make a nightly impact. He had some nice moments but overall he just wasn’t ready. It was only his first professional year so that’s understandable. But here, enjoy Boucher’s first NHL goal.

(Video from the feerlessleadr YouTube account)

Now? Now he’s ready. Yes, I know it’s just one game but Boucher was the second best player on the ice for either team. Only Adam Henrique outshined Boucher and that’s not a bad guy to play second fiddle to. And to be fair, some of Henrique’s success was thanks to Boucher. The first goal of the game (which is somehow still credited to Boucher; don’t ask me how that’s possible) that Henrique scored was assisted by Boucher. He flew in from the neutral zone and kept the puck in at the blue line. Boucher skated in down the left wing and wristed one that Henrique somehow was able to deflect home.

Boucher’s forecheck, along with Henrique’s, led to the Devils’ second goal. Then, with the game tied at two, Boucher flew down the right wing and absolutely dropped a dime towards the crease that Michael Ryder was able to tip into the net. Boucher ended the night with a pair of assists (even though he’s credited for a goal and an assist) and a rating of +4 while also amassing six shots. He made things happen. He was flying all over the ice and was terrific in all aspects of the game.

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The one mistake he did make came in the neutral zone. Boucher was carrying the puck through center ice and instead of getting it deep, he attempted an ill-advised cross-ice pass. It was intercepted and the Rangers were gifted a terrific scoring chance. Did Boucher hang his head and pout? No. He hustled back and intercepted the drop pass to break up the scoring chance that he helped create. It was the moment that really stood out to me. We all know Boucher can score. He proved that in the OHL when he set the Sarnia Sting record for goals in a season with 62. The former holder of that record? Steven Stamkos. You may have heard of him. Boucher has also shown an aptitude for being a playmaker. He has outstanding vision on the ice and picks out teammates with ease. The one knock on him is his defense. If he can be trusted in the defensive zone, he will thrive in New Jersey. That back-check was a great sign.

Will Boucher make the final roster? Who knows. It’s up to Lou Lamoriello and Peter DeBoer. I’ll tell you this though, if he plays more games like he did last night, there’s no way the Devils can send him to Albany. I would do whatever I had to in order to have him on the roster at this point. He fits like a glove on Henrique’s left wing. I’m really excited for his future, and hopefully that future isn’t too far off.