Boucher thinks so.
"I think there's a chance. I don't know how good (the chance) is," Boucher told Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger.
Devils coach Pete DeBoer, not surprisingly, was a bit more reticent.
"It's a big jump but it's not impossible," he told Chere. "You always want to leave that door open for somebody to bust through and surprise you. He has some special tools that you can't teach."
Boucher was the Devils' fourth-round pick in 2011. His 62 goals broke the Sarnia record of 58 set by Steven Stamkos. He also had three goals and five points in 11 games with the Devils' AHL affiliate after his junior season ended.
I love Boucher's raw shooting ability. His shot is flat-out deadly and he clearly has a nose for the net, but we've seen plenty of score-a-lot, defend-a-little prospects without a size advantage fail miserably in the NHL. Bobby Butler, anyone? Boucher stands between 5-foot-10 and 5-foot-11 depending on which outlet you check. At only 195 pounds, I have legitimate concerns about his ability to stay on the puck and withstand the game-in, game-out punishment of the NHL. It can be very difficult for smaller players to transition from junior to the NHL, even with a legitimate AHL stop in between.
Regardless of what you think of Boucher's overall game or his long-term prognosis, it's difficult to imagine him cracking the NHL on anything other than a trial or short-term basis this season. For one, he shoots left-handed, which means in DeBoer's system he's a left wing. He just happens to be blocked there by Ryane Clowe, Patrik Elias, Dainius Zubrus and Ryan Carter. Could he play out of position on the right side? Maybe, but he's a natural left winger. Do you really want to mess with his development just to shoe-horn him into a roster on the right side? Didn't think so.
Normally, I would say there's a chance the Devils would move one of those veteran left wings for help on the right side, but, outside of Carter, they're all new signees, so that is out of the question. The Devils could try to move Elias or Zubrus to the middle if Andrei Loktionov doesn't deliver in camp and then slide Boucher in at left wing on the second or third line -- most likely third. Then there's the question of how helpful is it to his development. Is it worth it for Boucher to play 10-12 minutes a night on a third line that's basically a fourth line because of the CBGB unit as opposed to 17 to 19 minutes a night for the Albany Devils? Unless Boucher absolutely forces the Devils to keep him around in camp, I tend to believe he'll be Albany bound to start the year.