Kevin SchultzSYOSSET, NY — One of the newest Islanders at training camp this week is Pierre-Marc Bouchard, who signed with the team as a free agent from Minnesota over the summer. In day two of camp today, Bouchard was placed on the right wing spot on the first line alongside John Tavares and Matt Moulson. While Kyle Okposo has occupied that spot on occasion and armchair coaches have shifted stud center prospect Ryan Strome over to the wing, it appears that it could be Bouchard’s spot to lose at least in the early going.
“It’s great to be on the right side of those two players, it’s fun,” he said speaking about his two linemates. “John is a great center man, he does everything good on the ice. And Matt is a pure goal scorer, works hard. It’s fun to have a chance to play with those two guys.”
Bouchard, 29, spent the first decade of his NHL career in Minnesota with the Wild but missed the entire 2009-10 season due to concussions and missed half of the 2011-12 season for the same issues, both of which are documented in detail here. However, he was healthy last season playing in 43 of 48 games, said he feeling just fine.
“I felt great, I had a chance to work out really hard this summer. I’m healthy, I’m ready to go,” he told reporters.
The right wing spot on the first line has been a bit of a work-in-progress for the past few seasons. Two seasons ago, PA Parenteau held the spot and racked up 67 points. The Islanders chose not to re-sign him the following summer, as he got big money from Colorado (4 years, $4 million per). Last season Brad Boyes would hold the spot and notch 35 points, but again the Islanders looked in a different direction, this time with Bouchard. Boyes is currently attending Florida training camp on a tryout contract.
For Bouchard, if he does indeed end up on the first line right wing this season, it’ll be an opportunity to maybe turn back the clock and put up some big numbers. His best NHL season to date was 2007-08, when he had 63 points playing nearly 17 minutes per night in Minnesota. With two excellent linemates — one a three-time 30-goal scorer and the other a Hart Trophy finalist last season — Bouchard, or whomever ends up occupying the spot, will have all the help necessary to succeed.