Reid Boucher, the New Jersey Devils 4th round pick in the 2011 NHL entry draft, was a member of the OHL's Sarnia Sting in 2011-12. (You can take a look at the prospect write-up I did on Boucher before last year's draft here.) It's important to mention that because it wasn't his original plan. Boucher, who had already committed to play college hockey at Michigan State University, passed up his last season in the USHL and his eligibility to Michigan State by signing in the OHL.
The OHL path of development for NHL prospects has advantages and disadvantages. The varying levels of competition and the rigorous schedule are two strong areas of the OHL. With that in mind I wanted to focus on how Boucher performed point wise against certain levels of competition and how he did in the first half of the season vs. the second half.
I looked at this not so much for what I could find out about his performance, but for what I was hoping I didn't find out. I didn't want to look at Boucher's performance and see that he averaged 3 points per game against the worst teams in the league and barely scored against tougher competition.
In addition to information about Reid Boucher, after the jump you will find statistical updates for the reamining Devils prospects playing in the ECHL & CHL.There are also other news and notes after the jump.
To look at Boucher's performance I looked at the OHL standings and allocated teams into tiers based on their performance. Full OHL standings are available at the OHL website.
The OHL has an interesting lower tier this year especially with the Erie Otters performance. Erie aside, you have your typical mix of strong and weak teams. This is how Boucher performed against each tier of competition.
Luckily Boucher's point production was spread out through the level of competition he faced. He was relatively consistent in his scoring across all tiers, didn't feast on the bottom feeders (although he had limited opportunities) and played well against teams that were equals of Sarnia (Tier 3 teams). Again, I was hoping to not see a lot of points built up against the bottom of the OHL, and with the breakdown above we can see that Boucher was consistent in his point production against most teams.
I also wanted to see how Boucher's scoring broke down from the first half of the year to the second half. Considering his size (5'9" and 190 lbs) and the fact that he had never played a grinding schedule like the OHL has, led me to guess that he would have interesting first half/second half splits, as he might fatigue in the second half of the year.
As evidenced above Boucher was a much more effective playe in the first half of the season if judged solely on point production, averaging nearly a point per game, than he was in the second half of the year when he averaged barely half a point.
What struck me is that his point production dropped, but his +/- wasn't a disaster like it was in the first half of the year. Adjusting for power play goals, Boucher scored 24 even strength points in the first half of the year and 16 in the second half.
In regards to point production aside from fatigure there are a number of other factors that could contribute to the drop in point production for Boucher. Teams learned his habits and were able to plan against him a bit better and Nail Yakupov's injuries in the second half of the year could have let other teams focus on Boucher more than they normally would.
Boucher should bounce back with a solid campaign next season now that he will be fully adjusted to the rigors of a full season schedule and the level of play in the OHL. Thinking about it a few weeks ago I was of the opinion that Boucher might be better served playing in the AHL next year, but I'm coming around to the idea of him staying where he is.
It would seem to benefit him best to head back to the OHL for another season. (Since he was drafted as a USHL player, he is eligible to play in the AHL next year. In other words the CHL/AHL agreement doesn't apply to him.) Boucher should see plenty of ice time as it's likely Sarnia Sting star Yaupon will jump to the NHL.
Once Scott Wedgewood's Plymouth Whalers were eliminated last week in the OHL playoffs Devils fans lost their last 'top' prospect to follow for this season. We'll talk more about Wedgewood in the off-season but he finished the year strong and had a good playoff performance. He should join the Albany Devils next year for his first season in professional hockey.
The Kalamazoo Wings advanced to the ECHL Eastern Conference Finals. They play the Florida Everblades in the next round. Currently Harry Young is the only player playing on a consistent basis as Maxime Clermont and Brian Haczyk have struggled to get into the lineup.
Zajac Signed to One-Year Deal in Albany: Per Tom Gulitti, forward Kelly Zajac has signed a one-year deal with Albany of the AHL.
Draft Pick Thoughts: I've been of the opinion that based on where the Devils were projected to pick in the first round of the draft that they should give up this year's pick because of the Ilya Kovalchuk Contract Penalty. Right now, not so sure about that.
Remember that the conference finalists from each conference will make up the last four picks of the draft order. Next come the remaining division winners who were ousted in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Then the remainder of those teams are ranked based on record.
With the upsets in the first round of this year's playoffs you will likely have conference finals with some lower seeds. That combined with division winners losing in the first/second round may push the Devils up to the #18/19 pick range. I know it's not that big of a jump, but the decision on whether or not to give up a first round pick becomes much harder.
That's it for this week; please leave any prospect related questions or comments below. Thanks for reading and sound off below!