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Tyler Boucher is far and away the most contentious prospect in the Ottawa Senators system. After being a surprise selection at 10th overall by the Senators in the 2021 NHL draft, Boucher has had trouble taking his game to the next level. After another disappointing showing at the OHL level, many fans have written him off as a prospect. But in this article, I will discuss why I still believe in Tyler Boucher becoming a reliable NHL player, even though he most likely will not be a top-end-level talent.
Tyler Boucher’s Season With The Ottawa 67’s
After being selected by the Senators in 2021, Tyler Boucher was set to play for Boston University in the NCAA. After 17 games with frustrating results, Boucher transferred to the OHL’s Ottawa 67’s in search of a fresh start. During the 2021/2022 year with Ottawa, Boucher scored a total of 7 goals and 7 assists for 14 points in 24 games.
Jump ahead to this past season, where fans expected Tyler Boucher’s production to take a big jump. Unfortunately, that did not happen, as he would only go on to score 10 goals and 7 assists for 17 points in 21 games. As a former 10th overall pick in his D+2 season, Boucher’s numbers were quite concerning, to say the least.
The other problem Boucher faced over his last two junior seasons was an inability to play games, either from injuries or suspensions. Boucher received two suspensions this season costing him eight total games missed. He received a 2-game suspension for being the aggressor in a fight and a 6-game suspension for a hit on Luc Brzustowski that caused a scary injury.
But the biggest roadblock of his season was a tear to his labrum. Pierre Dorion was quoted saying:
“Tyler suffered the injury while playing with the United States at the World Junior Championship and then returned to Ottawa to rehabilitate in an attempt to continue his season with the 67’s. After aggravating the injury in a game against the Kingston Frontenacs last week, it was determined that surgery is the best option.” Sens Communications
After missing countless games over the last two seasons from suspensions and injuries, Boucher has clearly had trouble getting into a rhythm. He was finally performing well at the World Junior Tournament with 4 points in 6 games before once again being derailed by injuries.
Time To Recalibrate Expectations For Boucher With The Ottawa Senators
As I said earlier, Boucher is the most highly disputed Sens prospect. But what if he had been a 2nd or 3rd round pick? If that were the case, I believe the consensus around him as a player would be very different. I don’t think there is much of an argument from fans that Boucher, at this rate, will not be a top 6 forward in the NHL. Of course, when picking in the top 10 of a draft, you would like the player to be at least a top 6 guy, but that isn’t Boucher’s fault.
Without attaching the draft selection to his name, I am high on Boucher becoming an effective bottom-6 player. I would like to see him fulfill a role as a third-line C/RW who is incredibly hard to play against. To me, Boucher screams Ottawa Senators hockey because he is such a competitive, physical player who wants to bully his opponents. He is the kind of player who playoff teams love to have in their bottom 6’s.
If he can come into the NHL and score between 25-35 points while playing that physical play style, he will be a valuable piece to the Senators. This isn’t out of the picture for Boucher either (as long as he can stay healthy). While I don’t see him living up to 10th overall expectations, I still think he can be an important piece of the Senator’s future.
Where Should Boucher Play This Season
As Tyler Boucher has said, his goal is to try and make the Ottawa Senators out of training camp. While I do not expect this to happen, I would be pleasantly surprised if he earns a bottom-6 position on the team. I believe Tyler Boucher will begin the season with the Belleville Senators playing a top 6 role. This is best for Tyler Boucher’s development, and his main priority should just be to get some games under his belt. A full season of hockey could do wonders for his overall development.
So with all the noise around Tyler Boucher’s name, I hope fans can accept that our expectations for him as a player need to change. Tyler Boucher was never expected to be a top-10 pick, and that can’t be held against him. As long as he can be a contributor at the next level, fans should still consider him as a valuable piece to the Senators franchise.
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