One of Canucks general manager Jim Benning‘s most renowned talents has been his eye for young talent. From the draft to project-esque pieces such as Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi, Benning has been able to find upside that had gone largely overlooked. One could make the argument that winger Reid Boucher is yet another addition to that list. A restricted free agent heading into the summer, the Canucks need to re-sign Reid Boucher.
The Vancouver Canucks Need to Re-Sign Reid Boucher
Boucher, claimed off waivers from the New Jersey Devils in January, has intrigued many with his impressive shot and offensive background. As a member of the Sarnia Sting, Boucher put up 62 goals in 68 games during the 2012-13 campaign. Additionally, he put up a respectable 19 points in 39 games in 2015-16 with the New Jersey Devils. Boucher evidently boasts some offensive potential, making him worthy of more of a shot with the Canucks next season.
One of the primary criticisms of former head coach Willie Desjardins was his odd deployment strategies. Boucher was one of the major examples of said issue. The 23-year-old played just 12:11 per game on average. That’s behind skaters such as Jayson Megna and Michael Chaput, and just 13 seconds ahead of Drew Shore. While serviceable depth, none of the aforementioned skaters boast much of anything in terms of NHL upside offensively. On a team that had nothing to play for late in the year, an increase in ice time was more than warranted for Boucher.
The majority of his minutes came with less-than-stellar linemates. Only a handful of shifts alongside Bo Horvat and Baertschi (before being switched out for the likes of Shore or Chaput). While power play time increased as the season wound down, it was generally seen as too little too late. His 1:40, while not dreadful, ranked below Brandon Sutter and Loui Eriksson, who generally proved to be ineffective with the man advantage. Meanwhile, Boucher placed third in goals per 60 minutes on the power play, behind only Horvat and Granlund (the Canucks’ two leading goal scorers at 20 and 19 respectively).
Boucher Producing In Low Minutes
Boucher managed to score five goals in 27 games, a 15 goal pace (which would have tied him for fifth in team scoring). He also proved to be a possession asset. His 48.3 CF% was 7th among regular forwards. That number ranked him ahead of Megna, Horvat, Chaput, Baertschi and Sutter. Boucher ranked second on the team in shots per game at 2.02, trailing only Daniel Sedin (2.6). With a heavy shot and an impressive amount of raw talent, Boucher showed the upside to be an offensive contributor for the club, and an additional building block for the ongoing rebuild
Time will tell what Boucher’s ceiling may be. The possibility for a top-six career is there, while the chances at a third or fourth line top-end remains equally probable. Whatever the case may be long-term, he’s shown enough that he absolutely deserves a long look by the Canucks, particularly because the goal is now showcasing young skill. The 2016-17 campaign was defined by an obsession over fringe-at-best NHL talent by the coaching staff. In order for that trend to be reversed, it is important that Boucher is not only brought back by the team, but given a chance to thrive.