Now that the Pittsburgh Penguins have officially (mercifully?) sent Darryl Sydor off to Dallas, I figured we could take a look at the team's newest addition to the blue line, Philippe Boucher.
Up until last season Boucher's career really looked like it was on course for a steady rise. He recorded a career-high 51 points (19-32) in 2007, eight points higher than his previous high of 43 the year prior. 12 of his 19 goals came on the power play, something that should add an interesting boost to the Pens should they look to use him on either unit.
Last season Boucher was out of commission following shoulder surgery after only 38 games with the Stars. He comes to the Pens with only three points (all assists) over 16 games.
Hard to say right now where the Pens, more specifically Michel Therrien, will place Boucher in the defensive pairings. If I had to guess I'd say Therrien will look to use Boucher's 6'3" frame much like that of Hal Gill but has the added bonus of Boucher's right-handed shot. If Goligoski and Letang keep working the one-two lines, then perhaps a healthy point shot from Boucher will prove a nice addition to the third line beside Brooks Orpik.
There's already talks from Ray Shero that Boucher may be used on the Pens' power play:
"He’s a veteran defenseman with good size,. He’s a good fit for our power play unit. He has more experience; we’re a younger group out there. He gives us another option. He’s proven he can play 20-plus minutes and hopefully he can make a contribution for us."
"More experience" is just a gentle way of saying "oldest guy in the locker room." Not disparaging the fact, I think that proves a vital part to the Penguins' chemistry. You need a guy who is experienced, who has seen the ups and downs of a season or two and who can offer to pick the team up and put them on his shoulders. And now that his shoulder is completely recovered from last season's surgery, this role should not be an issue for the 35-year-old veteran.