However you might feel about the New Jersey Devils’ 2013-14 campaign, there’s no denying that the team needs to score more goals and generally create more chances.
For the most part, the Devils seem like they’re counting on veteran players to produce. They’re hoping for more good things from the likes of Jaromir Jagr and Patrik Elias along with ideal outputs from additions Mike Cammalleri and Martin Havlat.
That said, hockey’s usually a young man’s game, so the Devils might at least want to ponder giving a key prospect like Reid Boucher a whirl.
Boucher, 20, turned heads in particular during his outstanding 2012-13 season with the OHL’s Sarnia Sting. He managed a 62-goal, 95-point season in 68 contests after only managing 50 in 67 the previous season. His AHL numbers were promising enough in 2013-14, as well, generating an impressive 22 goals and 38 points in 56 contests with the Albany Devils. Boucher even got his feet wet at the NHL level, collecting seven points in 23 games with Devils.
An early August NHL.com story implies that Devils head coach Peter DoBoer thinks he has a shot, at least if he emulates a former Devils forward.
“I’m looking for [Boucher] to come into [training camp] and be in good shape,” DeBoer said. “He’s a veteran and I’m looking for some leadership. He needs to have a workmanlike mentality. Whether he’s playing on a first line or fourth line, he has to bring that workmanlike mentality. I told him that the beauty about Zach Parise was that he was a first-line player with a fourth-line work ethic. I think Reid can take some notes from that.”
All of that said, doing so might mean making some waves. Cap Geek lists 14 forwards under contract in New Jersey, and that’s without counting Boucher or fellow up-and-coming prospect Stefan Matteau.
With everything in mind, the difference between becoming a full-time roster player and another season flipping between the AHL and NHL might come down to how Boucher performs in training camp (and early regular season games if he impresses in September).