Thoughts on waiving Bouchard
A few comments on the choice to waive Bouchard....
I understand that something had to change this roster with the hope up recalling Strome, but I'm not exactly sold on the choice to waive Bouchard.
First, I understand he has not produced in the stat column (something 11 of his fellow 12 bottom 3 line forwards have in common), but Bouchard brought an element that not too many guys on this team have. He was able to first, make and receive passes, as well as stick-handle in tight spots when needed. (Lets see which forwards would have finished that goal against Pitt or even the short side goal he had, yes it's sad I have to reflect on 1 or 2 goals, as none of the bottom 3 line forwards have scored lately). I understand that Regin was a center, and he can move around with Brock easier in the roster shuffle, but Regin shut hasn't shown enough to warrant staying on the roster. As has been mentioned on recently (i'll cite when I find it again), Regin has been a downgrade from Reasoner, most noticeably, in the faceoff circle, where this has been getting destroyed game in and game out. If he produced a few more points, I could get past the faceoffs, but if you aren't scoring, you have to do something else to help. Last year, and even when the team was playing OK two years ago, it was a nice start when Tavares was winning around 53-54% of faceoffs and then Reasoner was also following up with the ability to win faceoffs. It's a big problem on both special teams and I'm sure has a link to the poor performance on each (more so on Penalty Kill). Regin, also is on a $750k one year deal, he was not exactly in high demand last offseason, and is arguably replaceable even in our own system (Sundstrom). Bouchard, on the other hand, has produced in the NHL, and was supposed to be on the top line. My overall thought is that the talent level of the roster took a step back with this move.
On the other hand, it appears Strome is likely moving up. I think he is ready to get his shot. I think he should start on the third line and be at least on the second power play. Let him work his way up the lineup, placing him on the second line, and creating unwarranted expectations ins't fair to Strome, or the team. As far as development, it was important in my eyes to keep him in the AHL for as long as possible, and his production in the AHL cannot be ignored.
Another thought, I don't think the fact that the players surrounding him in the draft are all in the NHL suggests that he should be as well, because if you take a deeper look at the top 10 from 2011, the players picked around Strome haven't exactly torn up the league. Larsson has had a rocky transition in NJ (after starting in NHL), Zibanejad, at 6th, has bounced back and forth between the Sens and baby Sens, without producing much (besides shooting a hole through Nabakov's glove). Further, Sheifele, while hailing from a great Canadian team that obviously produces and nurtures players better than the Nino trading Islanders, has 3 NHL goals in 41 games. If Strome has that output through 41 games I think we will be yelling from rooftops about how we're "Baileying" Strome. If you look up in the draft, RNH has produced, but even then, he's had issues with the physical aspects of the league. Landeskog appears to be the best two way guy so far, and is justifying that draft spot. Huberdeau has had the a start in the league that I think we as Isanders fans should be happy with if Strome can replicate. Coutierer has had a great start, on good teams, and has been able to work his way up the line up and do a good job. (path I hope Strome takes as well).
So in summary of that rant, I don't think Strome not playing in the NHL yet and everyone around him playing warrants thinking he should be in the league, because the next two players drafter after Strome have not exactly set the league on fire, and should have had more development time. While the players ahead of Strome have done a nice job, there were generally considered better prospects at draft time.
And last, on developing Strome, I'm not sure what more games in the AHL, at this point, would do for him. I understand he's not a big forward, but he's not going to "fill on" in the next year. He's producing at such a rate in the AHL that offensively he's earned a look, and that should resonate with the younger prospects - if you produce, you play. It's a welcome departure from the paths of Nino and Bailey.
Let's hope for a good game tonight, as well as seeing the same defensive pairs, and a bounce off the post into the goal and not right back out.