GARRIOCH: Tyler Boucher is tough as nails and that bodes well for the Ottawa Senators

"We like the hockey sense, the ability to finish, his speed, his size and the hardness in his game."

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If you watched the National Hockey League playoffs this year, then down the road you can envision a player like Tyler Boucher being exactly what the Ottawa Senators need when spring rolls around.


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When the No. 10 spot in the NHL draft on Friday arrived, chief scout Trent Mann and the rest of the staff didn’t stray from their list and selected the feisty right-winger from the U.S. National Development Team. Yes, he’s headed for Boston University this fall, but he fits the mould for what the Senators organization wants.

The 18-year-old Boucher only suited up for 12 games last season because had a bout with COVID-19 and then needed arthroscopic surgery for a knee injury. But he has been described as a player who has the chance to be a prototypical NHL power forward and has been compared by scouts to the Washington Capitals’ Tom Wilson.

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“We feel Tyler Boucher fits into what we’re trying to build here,” Mann said. “It’s another piece that fits into the structure we’re trying to put in place here. At this point, we feel he has good upside as a strong power forward who can score. Those types of players aren’t plentiful.”

Boucher’s willing to pay the price and makes sure opponents do, too. That’s what you need when the going gets tough, especially in the post-season.


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“I think we have similar traits (to Wilson), but I’m my own player in my own way,” Boucher said. “We play the same in the aspect that we’re both throwback players. We’re very aggressive power forwards that play with an edge, but can score goals. I’ve got a pretty dangerous shots and I try to make plays by being powerful on the puck.”

That was why the Senators couldn’t resist going to the next name on their list after the Arizona Coyotes took Dylan Guenther of the Edmonton Oil Kings at No. 9.

“We like the hockey sense, the ability to finish, (Boucher’s) speed, his size and the hardness in his game,” Mann said Friday night, not long after Round 1 finished. “There’s just a lot of good qualities there. It’s a little hard to pass up on that. When you put that package together of a prototypical power forward, it’s a guy who can just do a lot of things for us.”

The Senators said they feared Tyler Boucher would be gone before they had another chance to draft him if they had traded back in the first round on Friday night.
The Senators said they feared Tyler Boucher would be gone before they had another chance to draft him if they had traded back in the first round on Friday night. Photo by Rena Laverty, USA Hockey NTDP /Handout

Of course, armchair critics suggested the Senators had “gone off the board” by taking Boucher at No. 10 and should have traded back to get additional assets before making that same pick. General manager Pierre Dorion and Mann both stated that, if they’d moved back, there was a good chance Boucher would be gone.

Let’s be honest, there was very little hockey played this year in any leagues and judging this draft was difficult.

As Mann noted, if you look at the public lists, Boucher didn’t play many games, but he moved up through the course of the season and that meant he was on the radar screen of several NHL teams for the draft. In Mann’s opinion, the decision to keep the No. 10 pick and take Boucher was a no-brainer because down the road he will play a key role.


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“If he played more hockey, maybe he would have been more in the general conversation,” Mann said. “You look at the lists now and they all have Tyler Boucher in the first round. He wasn’t before. What’s happened in the last few months that he’s jumped so high on these lists? That’s because the information is coming from the teams and they’re finding out in a hurry that he should actually be rated higher than people would have thought.

“Our information tells us he was going anywhere from right after we picked to No. 20, so we feel good about this selection.”

Dorion watched enough of Boucher’s games to know he could make an impact for the Senators. He may spend one or two years at Boston University, but the Senators will know the right time to bring him out. If you don’t believe that, look at their track record with the likes of turning winger Brady Tkachuk and centre Josh Norris pro, along with goaltender Joey Daccord.

Boucher’s major-junior hockey rights are held by the Ottawa 67’s of the Ontario Hockey League, if he decides to forego university.

Boucher is healthy and will be ready to start the year with the Terrriers.

“Our scouts did a tremendous job of having ranked where we had him on our list,” Dorion said. “We had everything checked out. The U.S. program was great with providing information and our medicals checked everything out, so there’s no concerns for our fans on that point of view. He’s a little bit under the radar because he only played 12 games. Well, in 12 games he had 11 points and six goals.


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“I had a chance to watch three of his games. I was impressed with this player. He could have gone at No. 12, No. 13 or No. 14, or maybe the teams that were asking us to trade back were going to take him.”

Some may wonder why the son of former NHL goaltender Brian Boucher doesn’t play in the net, but that’s by design.

“I don’t think my mom could handle that one again,” Boucher said. “She had enough trauma with my dad and she couldn’t go through that again. I think she wanted a fresh start and maybe a different route for me.”

He wasn’t kidding about his mother, Melissa. Tyler did play some goal as a small child, but didn’t stay in the spot.

“Vaughn gave us goalie gear and he always wanted to play and he would if we were a little late getting there for some games,” Brian Boucher said Saturday. “I just told him, ‘When you finally become a great skater, you can get in the net.’ I was always trying to discourage him from wanting to be a goalie because that was in the back of my mind.

“My wife did say that, ‘I can’t do another round (with a goalie).’ You play in Philadelphia, you give up a blue-line slapper and the whole building wants your neck. I listened to her. He did play a little bit in summer leagues. He was cute in there. Once I got him a goalie mask from Bauer, he put it in his room and he wanted to play out.”

Living through one goalie’s career was enough for Tyler Boucher’s mother, so he became a forward.
Living through one goalie’s career was enough for Tyler Boucher’s mother, so he became a forward. Photo by Rena Laverty, USA Hockey NTDP /Handout

If you think about it Boucher is the kind of player that Senators head coach D.J. Smith will love because he plays hard.

“I think that’s what Ottawa saw in me. I played a hard-nosed style, with grit and skill,” Boucher said. “That fits right into my style.”

Given the club’s recent track record at the draft, there’s no reason to believe this won’t work out well.

“It’s hard to pass up on big guys that can skate who have hockey sense,” Mann said. “No one’s going to give you those guys. That’s why this guy was climbing and climbing.”

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