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Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Reid Boucher: Aces High

The blog will be back tomorrow with a recap of the World U18 games that took place today. Watched 'em, but not going to crank out the notes and reports on some of the notable players until tomorrow.

However, Reid Boucher's two-goal performance prompted us to get something done on him because he's been lost in the shadows (that's an old Lou Gramm tune off of the 1987 Lost Boys soundtrack, btw) when it comes to him and his flashier linemate Rocco Grimaldi (whose themesong is Apollo 440's "Can't Stop The Rock")

Like Grimaldi, Boucher is undersized (though not quite as small as his fellow NTDPer) and looks about 14, but he's not as noticeable as No. 23 is on the ice. Boucher moves up and down the wing diligently, and he isn't a blazer who jumps out at you with a dazzling array of moves. You even start to forget about him, and then he'll pounce on a loose puck, wire it to the back of the net and you're left wondering: what the hell just happened?

You've heard the term 'deceptive' or 'sneaky' as they apply to offensive production sometimes, and that's Boucher. He'll be going along not doing much and then POW! He'll nail a one-time a winning strike from the outside with 21 seconds left in a tie game, or will pick up the rebound on the power play with the extra time and space and crush a team's dreams with one flick of the wrist.

The Michigander and Michigan State Spartans recruit is our pick to be most like another player from the same state- Bruins prospect Jared Knight- who rode a wave of successful diabetes treatment (after a disastrous first half of the season) and a 36-goal regular season (with 12 more in the playoffs) to the 32nd overall selection in last June's draft. They are not the same player, but they do have similar attributes as pure goal scorers who don't wow you with their feet, but have the hands, vision and predatory, "I want the puck on my stick now!" approach that always seems to see them on the ice in key offensive situations.

Sure, he's got to get stronger and his defense is a work in progress, but the effort, heart and drive is all there. At the end of the day, when he has the puck on his stick, Boucher is a stone cold killer. And Switzerland, Slovakia, Russia and now Germany have all figured that out firsthand.

Boucher led Team USA in scoring at the Five Nations in February, and he's doing it again in the World U18s with five goals in just four games while helping the Americans go perfect in the preliminary round with a 4-0-0-0 record. There is still much work to be done, but the U.S. team is off until Saturday, where they'll face the winner of Thursday's Canada-Germany quarterfinal contest.

If this kid wasn't on your watch list before, get him on there. We could see him being a high second-rounder, but don't see him sliding out of the third round after his performance since February. Pure scorers are gold, even those with size and a lack of elite speed. At the end of the day, Boucher is as good as prospect as any, and he's got the inner drive and killer instinct to be a very good one in time.

Click on this YouTube link to see Boucher score his dagger goal against Team Russia. But even better, is listening to the Russian play-by-play guy just sound crushed when Boucher rips it home on a wicked shot. You don't even have to speak Russian to taste the salty tears of his sorrow and hear the wah-wah-wah (sad music) in his voice when the puck goes in... (and yes, that's a Southpark "Scott Tenorman Must Die!" reference for those of you who are down like that)

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