Once upon a time, the New Jersey Devils had a very barren prospect pool. Lou Lamoriello prioritized the “win-now” model over playing for the future. It led to the Devils making the playoffs for 13-straight seasons and 19 of 20 seasons. The team was an afterthought when they first came to New Jersey, but once they finally got a taste of the postseason, they didn’t want to let it go. It didn’t bite them for about three decades, and it led to Reid Boucher being the Great White Hope for a franchise desperate for young stars.
Boucher was the 99th-overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft. He was a fine pick at the time that got even better in his second season with the Sarnia Sting. He ended up breaking Steven Stamkos‘ team record with 62 goals in 2012-13. It was the season after Zach Parise left for the Minnesota Wild, so the Devils were hoping to find someone to fill his star power. Fans thought that came in a very unlikely source.
His career with the Devils wasn’t that bad, but it definitely never lived up to the hype. He scored 59 goals in parts of four AHL seasons and then he added 29 points in 82 games with the NHL squad. The Devils tried to sneak him through waivers in 2016. He got claimed by Nashville. They tried to claim him and sneak him through waivers again, but he got claimed by Vancouver. That’s where he stayed before going to the KHL this past season.
Boucher was really, really good for the Avangard Omsk. He scored 24 goals and added 24 assists in 51 regular season games. He added 17 points in 21 playoff games on way to a Gagarin Cup (the championship for the KHL). Now, Elliotte Friedman with Sportsnet says Boucher wants to come back to the NHL in his latest 31 Thoughts column.
He’s only 27 years old, so he has plenty of a career left in front of him. Would he be a good fit for the Devils? It would be an interesting fit, and the Devils could use a veteran who could score on the wing, but it seems like it’s not the right fit. Boucher is a small scoring forward, which the Devils already have some of who are prospects who need more time on the ice.
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Still, it would be an awesome storyline for Boucher to return to the team that drafted him after cutting his teeth in Russia. It would be a move most fans would welcome with open arms. Is it the best move for the team? It’s not like it’s the “wrong” move. Boucher isn’t going to make that much money. However, it’s highly unlikely the Devils would even consider such a move. This is a player many Devils fans are going to root for no matter what (unless he signs with the Rangers or Flyers).