Montreal Canadiens: Joël Bouchard standing out as a key offseason addition

BROSSARD, QC - JUNE 30: Montreal Canadiens Prospect Centre Ryan Poehling (44) has a discussion with coach Joel Bouchard during the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp on June 30, 2018, at Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
BROSSARD, QC - JUNE 30: Montreal Canadiens Prospect Centre Ryan Poehling (44) has a discussion with coach Joel Bouchard during the Montreal Canadiens Development Camp on June 30, 2018, at Bell Sports Complex in Brossard, QC (Photo by David Kirouac/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images) /
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The Montreal Canadiens added a decent set of names over the offseason, but Joël Boucard may prove to be one of the top additions.

With day one of training camp ahead of us for the Montreal Canadiens, you’ll probably find yourself thinking, “Who was the best acquisition of the offseason?”.

Jesperi Kotkaniemi may be the first choice. The Habs were lucky enough to win one of the three lotteries ahead of the 2018 NHL Draft earning the right to select the Finnish centre third-overall. Despite the flack management got for taking higher than expected, even though Kotkaniemi’s stock improved in the remaining weeks heading into the event in Dallas, he’s proven so far that the right decision was made.

The 18-year-old stood out mostly overseas but had some stretches of good play at the Rookie Showdown last weekend.

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Maybe it was Max Domi who the Montreal Canadiens got from the Arizona Coyotoes in exchange for Alex Galchenyuk. The 23-year-old has quickly embraced the culture and lifestyle of Montreal and is surely eager to get going with his new team. Even his father Tie, who played in the Toronto Maple Leafs organization for 12 years has warmed up to the reality of his son playing for the Habs.

Again, there are easy choices. But I think Joël Bouchard will wind up being one of, if not, the best acquisition of the offseason.

He was linked to the organization after Sylvain Lefebvre was relieved of his coaching duties with the Laval Rocket. Bouchard had a lot of success in the QMJHL and felt he was ready to make the next step to the AHL. We’ve yet to see him coach a legitimate game. However, he’s shown the fanbase plenty to believe he was and is the right man for the job.

It goes beyond his work in front of the cameras, especially when it comes to tempering expectations on Kotkaniemi and the possibility of him making the team or not. You can tell that Bouchard is deeply invested in what he does and improving the play and performance of his players. He had a great quote after the final practice of rookie camp on Wednesday saying:

"Every time you have a jersey, it’s an opportunity. Every time. It doesn’t matter what the name in the back is. You’ve got a jersey, you’ve got a chance. That’s your job."

Words like those light a fire under you and it was evident that the players were buying into what Bouchard was selling. Think back to the aftermath of the Jarret Tyszka hit. Bouchard let it known to his players after what happened with Jake Evans that a lack of response wouldn’t be tolerated.

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When the same thing happened against the Leafs, those players who were on the ice got benched. He held them accountable. And what happened after? The Montreal Canadiens prospects started the season strong and were by far the better team for the rest of the game regardless of the score.

Imagine that kind of fire within the Laval Rocket lineup every single game. It’s fitting to look at the difference in the roster and the increased amount of youth, speed, and skill. But having Bouchard will perfect those advantages and convert them into an effective formula.

That’s not to say Laval is going to win every single game. But Bouchard has made one thing clear. That team will fly win or lose, and that mentality should be infused within the entire organization.

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