OTTAWA — It's been a tough year for the Ottawa Senators newest prospect, Tyler Boucher.
First he came down with COVID-19. Then there was the sprain to his MCL and a tear in his meniscus, limiting how much hockey he could play.
The Sens still saw something special in the six-foot-one, 205-pound right-winger, though, and opted to pick him 10th overall in the NHL entry draft on Friday.
Playing hockey in Canada is something Boucher said he's looking forward to.
"It's a great organization. I used to love watching (the Senators) when Erik Karlsson was there back in the day," he said. "I think it's a great spot, I think they have great fans, I think playing hockey in Canada is something that's really cool and really special."
Ottawa's general manager Pierre Dorion sees Boucher as a power forward who has great speed, uses his body, and finishes well.
Boucher was limited to just 12 games with the U.S. National Team Development Program last year but still managed to put up 11 points (six goals, five assists).
Dorion watched video of three of his appearances and was "thoroughly impressed" by what he saw.
“Never took a shift off, always moving his feet, always involved," the GM said. "But what impressed me the most was when he had the puck, you saw he had a knack to go to the net and try and score.”
Boucher — who's father is former NHL goaltender Brian Boucher — has committed to playing at Boston University next fall where he plans to continue his development.
"I think I've just got to college and see where it takes me," he said. "I think whatever (the Senators) want me to do, whatever they need me to do is what I'm going to do," he said. "Whenever they feel I'm ready is when I'll come in and try to make an impact."
The draft is being held virtually for the second year in a row and Dorion announced the pick from the Canadian Tire Centre in Ottawa, saying the club is looking forward to welcome fans back to the stands in October.
Ottawa will have five more picks (No. 39, 42, 74, 170, 202) when the draft resumes with the second round on Saturday.
The Senators struggled through the beginning of the abbreviated 2021 NHL season and ended the campaign second last in the North Division with a 23-28-5 record.
One bright spot was rookie Tim Stuetzle, who Ottawa chose third overall in last year's draft.
The 19-year-old German left-winger tallied 29 points (12 goals, 17 assists) in 53 NHL games.
The Sens also selected Jake Sanderson in the first round last year, selecting the American defenceman with the No. 5 overall pick.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published July 23, 2021.