I'm kind of curious about this one. The Wild are a defensive team, which means they are a bit physical or they have to learn at least some form of defense, either taught or already learned in the juniors. Bouchard is neither of these, he isn't physical and he hasn't learned really how to play defense well because of his small size. Because of this his abilities have yet to really blossom or even grow. So why did the Wild pick a guy that doesn't seem to fit the Wild scheme unless they are thinking about opening it up a bit?
Bouchard to me seems like a NATURAL center, which is another weird thing on why the Wild drafted him. Wild centers are defensive-first centers (Wallin, Koivu, Walz, Choiunard, Dowd, Hendrickson, Zholtok (who was probably our weakest center) could all play somewhat defensive hockey. Bouchard can't, so why the hell did we draft him, if he's not going to work out on the wings?
in that year Bouchard was maybe one of the most talentend player he had a hell of a junior year winning almost all the honors! he is a offencif guy! If the wild are patient he could turn up a little bit like Mike Ribeiro
If we're going to look at past draft picks and compare, why odn't we just say why didn't the Wild take a defensively responsible Nathan Smith at 3rd overall in 2000 instead of Marian Gaborik? Did he have the defensive talent to help the Wild in 2000?
His speed maybe? This has been their main focus in drafting IMO.
I see PMB to the Wild as Scott Gomez is to the Devils (I hope). You can only play so many muckers and grinders together. Skilled guys are needed no matter what type of team. He obviously would benefit in an open system, but who wouldn't? He mostly needs time IMO.
Gaborik was at least a bit bigger and stronger than Bouchard.
I'm waiting to give Bouchard time but I really do believe he is more comfortable at center position, which the Wild most likely won't give him.
He is one of the most skilled players on the Wild, problem is two fold 1) we don't have players yet to keep up with him 2) he is small and is well fragile...We need guys like Foy to start pushing up to help Bouchard as shown in the preseason.
Until we get strong guys like Foy playing with Bouchard, personally I see a problem.
I think they simply drafted him because he combines a terrific personality, great offensive skills and an underrated sense of the game.
I also think the clock is ticking differently for him than it does for most. He might have spent the last two years outside of the NHL under other circumstances. I think some people are a little impatient with him because they look at him the way they look at a 22-23 years old.
He's just not a physical phenom. I said in his draft year there was no way he was NHL ready. He partly proved me wrong and the Wild like to develop this way and since I love this organization, I think they know what they are doing. But still, it shows that he is not a phenom that was completely ready.
They've drafted him because he's going to listen to them. He's not a hot-dog offense phenom. He's a very skilled player but can listen. The Wild build from strong team concept, not putting 20 individual talent on the ice. Under this philosophy, a player like Bouchard is a nice opportunity.
As it has been mentioned, center is often an extremely important position for teams such as this. I suspect they thought it was imperative to find a naturally skilled player who would accept to play responsibly. Bouchard is that man, and has the potential to become a damn good puck distributor in this league without cheating on coverage and make low percentage dumb plays.
For those not too familiar with the Q, Bouchard is a player who has more offensive potential than Ribeiro and NONE of the baggage. Since I follow all 30 NHL teams, I don't have time to follow the Wild game after game but the advantage is being able to see marked changes when I look at aa guy 6-8 games later. In the case of Bouchard, I have seen maarked changes in the way he plays in the second half of this year. The results were not there but the boying way of accomplishing things on the ice was disappearing slowly. He looked more confident and less overwhelmed. His body looked stronger and stronger as the year went on.
It's a matter of development but he should at least provide every perks of a Ribeiro with none of the flaws. He's not going to be the top penalty killer in Minny but he should find ways to work under this system and provide offense. I'd like to see improve several things but most importantly he needs to keep on getting stronger overall. Stronger skating, stronger shot, stronger everything. The rest is just about acclimatation with a league that was a little too much for him up until now. Next season (when there is one) starts the "real" NHL career of Bouchard, IMO. With plenty of stuff to improve.
He has some downside but plenty of upside too. It was a risky selection. Very early but then again it doesn't look like an amazing year either.
I don't think the Wild plan on being a trapping team of muckers forever - it allows them to be competitive now, but in the long term, I think they have a different plan.
Remember the Montreal Canadiens of Lemaire, Riseborough and Tremblay's era? Fast skating offensively gifted squad that would blow you away with speed and finesse? Well, if you look at the Wild's top draft picks, you see lots of great skating ability and offensive panache for the most part, of which Bouchard is a prime example. This is the vision they are building towards IMO. It's no coincidence that the Wild have all these ex-Canadiens on board, along with Guy Lapointe.
So to answer your question, Bouchard is the kind of player they ultimately want for their high speed offensive juggernaut of the future. Give them 3 or 4 more drafts, and you'll see what I mean.
I agree completely with Vlad. And here are some of my opinions concerning Bouchard:
He was drafted because, like mentioned before, he was the most talented player available. Because of his size, it is more of a high risk-high reward case, but he was the most talented player around at that time.
My personal opinion of Bouchard is that he just needs time-time to mature, and icetime. One relies on a natural aging process, and the other with Lemaire. I think at the beginning of the season, he was one of the only entertaining players to watch, but once Gabby and Dupuis came back, his ice time diminished.
Another thing about Bouchard that I think will make him successful is his competetiveness. It is not always shown, but I recall three instances (two his rookie year, and one last year) where he was absolutely hammered into the boards, and instead of disappearing from the game, he got up and actually returned a hit to Adam Foote, and then next shift led the rush, with him being the one against three, gaining the zone which we all know is very hard for the Wild to do. If I remember right, in his last year of Juniors, or maybe even preseason, he was suspended for cross-checking someone in the face. Yea, anyone can do that, but I don't know of many 5-7 150 pound finesse playmakers doing it. So my point is that he is not scared due to his size...yes, he gets taken off the puck, but look at all the recent success of players such as St. Louis. Was he dominate as a 20 year old? No. And now look at him. I am not saying Bouchard will end up winning awards and such, but I definately have faith he will be worth the pick.
I loved Bouchard at the end of the year. Period. He did well and I hope when the season begins he can return to that form. Yes, I know he is still young and has a long, long way on hitting his stride....
I think Vlad really hit the nail on the head...which I completely forgot about. Character.
I like the comparsion of Gomez, Bouchard's another small skilled playmaker like Scotty is. I dont know why everyone gives him such a hard time the kids only 20 years old and it takes a little longer for smaller players to get adjusted to the game and he improved his point total this past year from his rookie season so thats a plus. I really do think with time he will become a solid forward for the Wild. Where is he gonna play this season? We can put him in Houston right? which I think is where he should go, hes still on his rookie contract so im sure its a 2 way deal and he is 20 now which makes him able to play in the AHL. Hopefully he gets to be the top center down there or Koivu. Id also like to see if Schultz is able to play in Houston this year, im not sure if he will have to go through Waivers. It would definetley be beneficial for him to play this year. In other Aeros news, former UMD Bulldog and the Hobey Baker Award Winner Junior Lessard was sent down to Houston. So the Aeros top forwards potentially could be Bouchard, Koivu, Wallin, Wanvig, Veilluex, Foy and Lessard. Not too bad.