The Ottawa Senators have signed their top pick from the 2021 Entry Draft, Tyler Boucher, to a three year, entry-level contract. Boucher will initially be assigned to the Belleville Senators, but is expected to spend the balance of the season with the Ottawa 67’s provided the OHL resumes their season. Complicating matters slightly, Boucher did test positive for COVID-19 in recent days and will only be able to come into Canada on January 6th, but there are no expectations this delay will become anything more significant.
By signing a professional contract, Boucher puts an end to his NCAA eligibility and thus his time at Boston University. Boucher led the team with 34 penalty minutes in 17 games, and demonstrated some of the trademark physicality that the Sens said they were seeking when they drafted him. Unfortunately, the offensive upside they were hoping for didn’t materialize as Boucher was held to a meagre two goals and one assist. Clearly things were not going as planned and a change of scenery was probably needed.
If the timing of this contract seems a bit unexpected, Pierre Dorion explained that this was something that had been contemplated by Boucher for several weeks now. No one in Ottawa would ever say so publicly, but it seems possible that Boucher failing to make USA’s roster for the World Junior Championships also hastened his exit from BU.
As far as this season’s gone, Boucher’s performance has been quite dispiriting. The Sens’ decision to draft him with the 10th overall pick was almost universally considered a major reach, with the primary reason being his lack of offensive potential. To have him struggle so mightily on the offensive side things is mighty uncomfortable.
At the same time, it would be awfully premature to bury him as a prospect considering that he will only turn 19 in mid-January; Boucher’s got a lot of hockey in front of him. Add in the fact that he’s missed a significant amount of playing time recently due to injury and anyone making definitive proclamations at this time is just talking for the sake of it. That doesn’t make the struggles any less real, and Boucher needs to show something in the OHL, but like with so many prospects we’d all be best served to wait a bit on this one. Certainly the Sens will be happy to bide their time for now, with the hope that this change of scenery will be just the jump-start needed.