Will New Jersey Devils Rookie Reid Boucher Be Returning to Albany?

Reid Boucher still ranks second in points for the Albany Devils this season.  Despite missing the last five games while playing for the New Jersey Devils, no forward has more than Boucher’s 18 points except Joe Whitney.  The Albany Devils have continued their hot start to the season even with Boucher lacing up his skates in Newark and will only continue their success once Boucher returns to Albany.  With Stephen Gionta back from his ankle injury and Ryane Clowe just a marker and a board away from playing in a game for New Jersey once again, Boucher will end up as the odd man out on the parent club’s roster and he will return to Albany.  Or will he?

The only negative to Boucher’s NHL debut on December 4th against the Montreal Canadiens was the result of the game.  Playing alongside Andrei Loktionov and Michael Ryder, Boucher watched as Loktionov tied the game in the 3rd period for New Jersey.  Deciding he wanted to be more than just a witness, Boucher a short while later, while along the half boards, received a pass from Loktionov and quickly fed it to Ryder who then ripped it over Peter Budaj to give the Devils the lead.  With his first NHL point in the books, Boucher could only watch as Montreal tied the game twice in the final frame to send the game to the dreaded shootout.  The Devils had lost all four prior games that ended in a shootout on the season and to make matters worse had not scored a single goal on their 14 attempts.

Boucher, with one goal on three attempts for Albany during the 2013-14 season, erased the zero.  Moving towards Budaj quickly, Boucher moved to the net minder’s right and zipped it over his pad.  While it did not count as his first NHL goal, Boucher brought the Prudential Center crowd to their feet and absorbed the immediate affection.  Unfortunately for the rookie and the Devils, Montreal ruined an otherwise stellar debut and went on to win the contest 4-3.

Reid Boucher scores the New Jersey Devils first shootout goal of the 2013-14 season against Peter Budaj (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)
Reid Boucher scores the New Jersey Devils first shootout goal of the 2013-14 season against Montreal goaltender Peter Budaj (Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports)

Two games later, Boucher made his road debut in the NHL at Madison Square Garden.  To add to his already high adrenaline, Boucher played parts of the game on the Devils top unit with Travis Zajac and Jaromir Jagr, the 41-year old superstar veteran who made his own NHL debut long before Boucher took his first breath on the planet.  While he did not register a point, Boucher got to experience a win in the NHL for the first time as the Devils defeated the New York Rangers in overtime courtesy of another former Albany star, Eric Gelinas.

Boucher added another assist in the Devils next game and it was a beauty.  In the neutral zone, Zajac lost the puck but it luckily found Boucher.  Boucher smartly tipped it back to a streaking Zajac on his backhand and picked up the primary assist on the ensuing Zajac goal.  In all he played 15:33, the most ice time in any game so far with New Jersey.  The Devils lost and then fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins three nights later before they returned to the Prudential Center to host the Tampa Bay Lightning in snowy Newark.  Boucher played 12:28 on a line with Ryder and Adam Henrique and the Devils played a sound 60-minute contest and defeated Tampa Bay 3-0.  Following the game, Boucher’s sixth in the NHL, Devils coach Peter DeBoer heaped a ton of praise on the young 20 year-old’s shoulders.

From The Hockey Writers correspondent Dan Rice:



DeBoer wasn’t finished.  Prior to the Devils most recent game against the Ottawa Senators, DeBoer let it be known to Tom Gulitti of The Record that he was aware of Boucher’s solid play in all three zones and hinted at a roster spot dilemma.


Playing with more confidence each game, Boucher opened up to Gulitti about when he would score his first official goal in the NHL.  “I’ve been playing well,” Boucher told Gulitti. “There’s always room for improvement, but I’m starting to get more and more chances each game and I think I’m going to get my first one soon.  Sooner or later it’s going to go in for me.”

Boucher wasted no time in making sure the goal came “soon.”  Entering the Senators zone, Boucher skated to the edge of the crease as Gelinas took a pass from Ryder and blasted the puck wide of the net.  Being at the right place at the right time, the puck bounced off the end boards right to Boucher and just as rapidly as the puck left Gelinas stick Boucher had his first goal in the NHL.

Reid Boucher nets his first career NHL goal with a little help from another former Albany Devils standout Eric Gelinas:


Boucher would end the night with four shots, matching his shot total from all of his previous six games, and even more confidence.  Boucher continued to marvel his coach and was compared to a former NHL star after being previously compared to Carolina Hurricanes forward Jeff Skinner.


Boucher has played between eleven and fifteen minutes a game on average and has not been fazed playing on the Devils top line.  Boucher has been on the ice during overtime, scored the Devils only shootout goal this season, and continues to sparkle in the eyes of the Devils head coach.  He is improving on a nightly basis and has proven he can play with the stronger and faster players in the NHL despite his small stature.  The Devils have won two games in a row with Boucher being a central figure in giving the Devils four well-balanced lines.  The Devils need points and Boucher is delivering.  He adds an element of speed and energy that the Devils lineup lacked early in the season.  Gionta may have returned (and scored a goal) the same night Boucher notched his first NHL tally and Clowe may be knocking on the door of the lineup but will DeBoer and Lou Lamoriello return Boucher to Albany?

As the Devils prepare to battle the dangerous Anaheim Ducks and their old but new again divisional nemesis Washington Capitals this weekend, Boucher will remain in the lineup.  If he continues to improve and the Devils streak hits three or four wins in a row, the Albany Devils and their faithful may have to come to terms that one of their stars graduated from their organization early.

Be sure to check out Dan Rice‘s interview with Reid Boucher.