The Montreal Canadiens should put a claim in on Reid Boucher and reunite him with Alex Galchenyuk.
The Montreal Canadiens are battling several injuries at the moment. Alex Galchenyuk has been out for a month with a knee injury. David Desharnais has been sidelined almost as long. Andrew Shaw was recently placed on injured reserve. The Habs should look to the waiver wire for reinforcements and grab Reid Boucher.
The Canadiens last waiver claim has worked out extremely well. Paul Byron was plucked for free prior to the start of the 2015-16 season. Byron currently ranks second on the team with 12 goals and is tied for third in points with 23.
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It would be difficult for anyone coming off waivers to match that output. However, that shouldn’t stop the Canadiens from trying to acquire some free assistance. They have that chance today, and though Boucher isn’t a superstar, he could fill in short term while the Habs deal with their injuries.
Boucher was drafted by the New Jersey Devils in the fourth round of the 2011 NHL Draft. He played his Junior hockey with the Sarnia Sting and has some experience playing with one of the Canadiens best players.
Boucher would be reunited with Galchenyuk
Boucher’s linemate for part of his tenure with the Sting was none other than Galchenyuk. The pair played about half of a season together. Though they were both members of the Ontario Hockey League squad in 2011-12, Galchenyuk missed all but two games that season.
The following season, while the National Hockey League was locked out, Galchenyuk and Boucher tore up the OHL. Galchenyuk scored 27 goals and 61 points in 33 games before packing his bags for Montreal at the end of the lockout.
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Boucher was equally as dominant for the Sting. He finished the season with an astounding 62 goals in 68 games. More than half of those games were played without Galchenyuk at center. He proved to have some chemistry with Galchenyuk, but also showed he could snipe without him.
Since then, Boucher’s career hasn’t taken off as quickly as Galchenyuk’s. He played most of the last three seasons with the Albany Devils of the American Hockey League. He scored 22 goals in 56 games in 2013-14, his first as a Devil.
Pro career has been up and down but Boucher had impressive 2015-16
Boucher followed that up with 15 goals and 30 points in 62 games for Albany. It was a disappointing 2014-15 season for the sniper. After scoring 22 as a rookie, he was expected to either crack the NHL lineup, or score 30 for Albany.
Last season, Boucher bounced back by cracking the New Jersey lineup for half of the season. He had 19 points in 39 games for New Jersey. Not exactly a first line player’s production, but close to a 20 goal and 40 point pace. He also chipped in 19 goals and 32 points in 34 AHL games.
Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
This season, Boucher has bounced around the league a bit. He started with the Devils, but was placed on waivers and claimed by the Nashville Predators. Earlier this week, the Preds placed him on waivers and he was snatched up by the Devils. Now the Devils have placed him back on waivers.
A bit of a whirlwind for the 23 year old left winger. When not on the waiver wire, he has managed four goals and five points in five AHL games and one goal and two assists in 12 NHL contests.
Boucher could fit on line with Galchenyuk and Radulov
The Canadiens hadn’t found a left winger for the Galchenyuk – Alexander Radulov line. It would make sense that Max Pacioretty would work there, but he was playing well on a second line with either Tomas Plekanec or Philip Danault at center.
It was actually waiver acquired Byron that was last playing with Galchenyuk before his injury. Though he filled in admirably, he doesn’t have a history of scoring goals and can’t be expected to have a second half near as good as his first half of the season.
Boucher on the other hand has scored goals at every level. He has a history of playing with Galchenyuk and might be a perfect fit on the Habs top line. Even if he isn’t, he could snipe a few goals while the Canadiens are still battling injuries.
It would be a no risk move. Boucher’s meagre-by-NHL-standards contract is up at the end of the season. If it doesn’t work out he walks away. Actually he could be put on waivers and sent to the minors or claimed by another franchise before then if he isn’t performing.
However, what if he clicks with Galchenyuk and Radulov? If Byron can look like a sniper on that line, how good could a 23 year old goal scorer look? It’s worth a shot.
Habs fans have been trying to reunite Galchenyuk with former Sting linemate Nail Yakupov for years. Maybe his former left winger is a better fit than his former right winger. What is there to lose by putting a claim in on Boucher?