Reid Boucher, the team MVP for the Utica Comets in each of the last three years, has signed a one-year deal to play in Russia for Avangard Omsk of the Kontinental Hockey League (KHL).
Boucher was a scoring machine for the Comets. He set the franchise record in 2017-18 with 25 goals. He broke his own record the next season with 31 while also setting the franchise record with 62 points. During the abbreviated 2019-20 season, he again broke his own franchise goal record with 34 and point record with 64 in 53 games. He’d also tied the franchise’s all-time points record of 175, which is shared by Alexandre Grenier.
Boucher was selected to three all-star games while with the Comets. And in each of the last three seasons he was chosen as the team’s MVP.
“I have great relationship with Boosh,” Comets general manager Ryan Johnson said of Boucher. He said the forward made the move as “an opportunity over in Russia with the uncertainty with what will happen over here,” referring to the pandemic and how it will affect when AHL and NHL games start again. For Vancouver to deny him the chance to “cash in on that would be selfish and unfair to him.”
TSN’s Rick Dhaliwal reports that the contract is worth $719,000 with a $143,000 bonus if Boucher ends the season as one of the top three scorers. Johnson noted that the franchise had a hand in the move, as Vancouver had to release him from his contract with the team.
Johnson said that when the Comets return to play, “We have to re-tool.” Without Boucher, who Johnson called “the best player in the AHL,” another Comet will have to take the role of top scoring threat. The team also must replace Boucher as a leader, as he had “become a big leader for us,” not as a boisterous personality but as a nonstop competitor, Johnson said. His success, however, is, for the younger players, “a great lesson for them” about what it takes to be a leader and goal scorer.
Before joining the Comets, Boucher was in the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators organizations. He was drafted with the 99th overall pick in the 2011 NHL Draft by the Devils.