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New Jersey Devils: Is Reid Boucher NHL ready?

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Lifted out of the AHL to fill in for an injured Ryan Carter, Reid Boucher made a quick impression by becoming the first, and to this day the only, player on the New Jersey Devils roster to notch a shootout goal. All he needed was one try in his first NHL game.

That impression would soon fade though, as would his scoring touch.

In fact, other than that shootout goal, Boucher has been quite illusive in his rookie campaign in the National Hockey League.

He hasn't exactly been the "special" player coach Pete DeBoer was expecting, to say the least.

"I think we know what he is," DeBoer said in December when Boucher first arrived. "He's got to play in your top six, top nine forwards. He's not going to be a checker, he's not a big guy, but he has a special talent that we could use in the organization."

Since his debut with the Devils on Dec.4, the 20-year-old forward has one goal and four assists, putting him on pace to finish up the season with three goals and 14 points. At best the rookie forward has been given 15:33 of ice time but typically falls between the 10-12 minute range, including some power play time that he wasn't getting when he first arrived from Albany.

Aside form his lack of production, which some may argue isn't all that matters, Boucher has done nothing for the Devils to become a stand-out player. He has blocked five shots, dished 14 hits and has taken two penalties.

Collecting 18 points with the Albany Devils, the call up may have seemed like a good choice in December. But for a team desperate for goals and wins with 34 games left on the schedule, there's not a lot of time for patience with a player that just has potential.

Is Boucher NHL ready? The answer right now is no.

Of all of the players the Devils have not wanted to rush into the big league, it's a wonder at this point why Boucher is one of the exceptions.


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