Photo Credit: Rena Laverty
Scouting Report written by Paul Zuk
One of several talents in the 2021 NHL Draft coming from NHL bloodlines, Tyler Boucher is a sneakily talented, gritty left-wing currently suiting up for the United States National Team Development Program in Plymouth, Michigan. Boucher is the son of former NHL netminder and 1995 22nd overall pick Brian Boucher.
Boucher played his youth hockey within the AYHL for teams located in New Jersey, most notable being Team Comcast 13U AAA and Virtua 14U AAA. Following his 14U season in which he was almost a two point-per-game player, Boucher attended Avon Old Farms Prep School in Avon, Connecticut. He recorded nine goals and 14 assists for 23 points in 26 games for Avon, which caught the eye of the USNTDP. In 2019/20, Boucher enjoyed a successful rookie season with the USNTDP U17 team, where he tallied 13 goals and 24 assists for 37 points in 67 total games.
This past season was certainly an odd one for Boucher, as he only took to the ice for 19 total games for the U17’s and U18’s after suffering a knee injury in January. Still, he managed 12 goals and seven assists for 19 points, an impressive feat for someone in and out of the lineup battling a nagging knee injury.
For the 2021/22 season, the Haddonfield, New Jersey product will be taking his talents northeast to Boston University (BU), where he’ll link up again with USNTDP teammates Jeremy Wilmer and defenseman Ty Gallagher. Boucher will craft his skills with expert level guidance from Head Coach Albie O’Connell, who will look to lead a feisty Terriers squad back to the National Championship, where their last appearance was in the 2014-15 season. It will come as little surprise to see Tyler Boucher lighting it up at BU in the near future.
D.O.B – January 16, 2003
Nationality – USA
Draft Eligibility – 2021
Weight –201 lbs
Position – Left Wing
Handedness – Right
Boucher’s Style Of Play
When you watch Tyler Boucher play hockey, it’s almost as if you stepped into a time machine and wound up in 2004. Boucher plays a very physical style of hockey that is fairly hard to come by in today’s modern NHL.
He thrives on making his presence known to the opposition, which is usually able to buy him some time and space on the ice. Not only is he successful at racking up points with that time and space, Boucher also loves to drive to the net with force, with or without the puck. He’s more than capable of batting home a loose puck in tight, but can also kill you with his powerful, above average wrist shot.
Defensively, Boucher is a bit of a work in progress. He’s been able to showcase the attributes needed to be a successful defensive forward, but sometimes struggles putting them all together to be efficient in his own zone. That being said, his work ethic in the defensive zone is definitely not in question, as he has zero issue supporting his defensemen down low battling for pucks.
Let’s get a little more in-depth with the aspects of Tyler Boucher’s game:
Boucher’s skating is one aspect of his game which NHL front offices will really enjoy. He has more of an upright skating stride, but it’s very powerful. Boucher’s first step and explosiveness are evident, as he can generate a fair bit of speed as he works his way through the neutral zone in transition.
Boucher is quite strong on his feet, which helps him win puck battles along the boards and in open ice. His strength on his skates is shown via his wide skating stance, as his feet look to be slightly farther than shoulder width apart when building up speed.
When executing a zone entry, he buries his head down and uses his leg strength to power his way around defenders, a trait many scouts will love as he transitions to the next level.
His agility and edges could use some work, though, as he sometimes struggles to change direction quickly when play switches direction, leaving him caught out of position. He’ll most likely look to work on these little imperfections in the upcoming seasons.
Arguably my favorite part of Boucher’s offensive game is his excellent forechecking ability. Simply put, he’s a thorn in many teams sides when they’re trying to set up a breakout. Boucher loves to dig down deep in the corners and physically punish defenders, especially early on in games to set the tone of the game.
Boucher loves to use his size and speed to take the play out wide and skate around the defender when breaking into the offensive zone. When in the offensive zone, he’s able to utilize his above average hands to help evade defenders, even in the tightest of spaces.
In transition, Boucher is able to seek out teammates in space and deliver a fairly accurate pass to begin the movement up ice. While he’s not the most offensively creative player on his line, Boucher’s able to add that hard-charging, big body presence that helps distract defenders, allowing his linemates the ability to create dangerous offensive chances.
In terms of special teams, Boucher saw his powerplay ice-time more than double this season (2:05 min/game in 20/21, opposed to 0:55min/game in 19/20), albeit in a smaller sample size. However, he put the added special teams ice to good use, as he was a hard player to defend infront of the net. Boucher is able to use his size and skill to screen the goalie and bang home any loose pucks in the crease.
Boucher’s overall defensive game could use some work, but he’s shown he has the tools to make it succeed thus far. For example, he has a very high motor when it comes to chasing down attackers with the puck in his own zone, but his killer instinct can sometimes be detrimental to his game, as he’ll put himself out of position trying to make a hit.
That being said, Boucher is more than capable assisting his defensemen down low when they’re under pressure. On the flip-side, he thrives at pressuring attackers to make forced decisions which can lead to a lot of turnovers in the offensive zone. Boucher then is quite reliable at making a crisp breakout pass to transition the game up ice for the USNTDP.
A trait that pretty much any NHL team will like is how aggressive of a penalty killer Boucher is. He has a knack for pressuring opponents trying to set up their powerplay, which entices them to make bad decisions with the puck. Boucher saw just over 1:30 min/game on the penalty kill in his first full season with the U17’s in 19/20, and proved to be fairly productive. Boucher is also capable of using his body and stick to disrupt offensive flow for the attackers and shut down passing lanes, with a slightly above average rate of success.
While Boucher didn’t get much in-game time this past season to work out the little kinks in his game, he’ll have the next couple of seasons at BU to hone his skills. BU has quite an impressive coaching staff, so look for them to work with Boucher and help him develop into an exciting two-way player. Here are a couple of areas where he may look to improve on heading into next season.
First, Boucher has a tendency to sometimes cross the line physically which leads to unnecessary penalties. He will have to find a way to play a little bit cleaner as he progresses in his career, as I’m sure his future coaches won’t be overly thrilled having to kill off frequent minors.
Boucher could look to simplify his overall game in the defensive zone, focusing more on positioning instead of just looking to make the big hit. While his physical presence is an awesome attribute to have, most teams would prefer a prospect to be more positionally sound in the defensive zone.
Lastly, Boucher would benefit from cleaning up a few aspects of his game. It’s nothing that more consistent playing time and getting healthy won’t fix, but he may look to work on his shot accuracy, his discipline, and his overall two-way game.
Overall, Tyler Boucher is a solid prospect who should be able to develop his game into being an effective middle-six forward, who can contribute on special teams, as well as at 5v5. As mentioned above, Boucher does have a little bit of fine tuning to do when it comes to developing his overall game, but he’s set up quite well in terms of coaching and guidance so far at the collegiate level for next season.
It wouldn’t come as an overly large surprise to see a team take a bit of a reach on Boucher, perhaps as early as the middle of the second round. His skillset is relatively difficult to come by nowadays, and it can prove to be quite useful come playoff time. Whichever team ends up selecting Tyler Boucher will hopefully be thrilled to add his unique talents to their roster in the seasons ahead.
stats from InStat and EliteProspects
Prospect report written by Paul Zuk. If you would like to follow Paul on Twitter, his handle is @paulzuk_81.
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