Born: March 24, 1973
Birthplace: St. Apollinaire, Quebec, Canada
Height: 6'2" Weight: 215 lbs.
Drafted by the Buffalo Sabres, 1st Round, 13th
Overall, 1991 NHL Entry Draft
Seasons with Buffalo: 1992-93 to 1994-95
Uniform Number: 24, 4
|As a youngster, Philippe Boucher was a much sought after talent. As a bantam player in St. Foy, Quebec, Boucher was drafted in the Midget Draft by the Hull Olympiques of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. His rights were later traded to the Granby Bisons of the QMJHL, where Boucher began his junior career in 1990.
An offensive defenseman, Boucher was an instant hit with the Bisons, scoring 21 goals and 46 assists in 69 games played his rookie year. That year he was the only rookie named to the OHL/QMJHL All-Star game. He was a second team QMJHL All-Star, and was awarded with the Michael Bossy Award as the top rookie prospect in the QMJHL for the 1990-91 season. He was also voted as top rookie in the entire Canadian Hockey League.
Following his rookie season in the QMJHL, Boucher finished second in voting as the top draft prospect in the CHL. Eric Lindros won that honor, and was selected with the top pick overall in the 1991 NHL Entry Draft, by the Quebec Nordiques. Considered the best offensive talent amongst defensemen in the 1991 Draft, Boucher would have to wait just a bit longer
|Philippe Boucher on Draft Day 1991.|
|to hear his name called. He was selected 13th overall, the first round selection of the Buffalo Sabres.
After being selected in the draft, Boucher returned to the QMJHL, where he continued to record impressive offensive numbers. He split the 1991-92 season between Granby and the Laval Titans. In 65 games that year, Boucher amassed 29 goals and 77 points.
Boucher's impressive junior play, coupled with a good training camp, earned him a spot in the Sabres lineup for the start of the 1992-93 season. Boucher was in uniform for the Sabres on October 8, 1992 for the home opener against the Quebec Nordiques. Boucher tallied his first NHL point with an assist in the Sabres 8-2 win over the Montreal Canadiens three nights later on October 11, 1992. Boucher played 18 games for the Sabres in 1992-93. He failed to score a goal in that time, but added three more assists. Boucher was returned to his junior team partway through the season. He played 16 games for Laval in 1992-93, scoring 12 goals and 15 assists. He finished the season with the Rochester Americans, the Sabres' top minor league affiliate. Boucher played 5 regular season games with the Amerks, scoring 4 goals and adding 3 assists. He also played in three playoff games for Rochester that year.
|The 1993-94 season marked Boucher's first full professional season. He
started the season in Rochester, but was recalled to Buffalo in mid-October. In his first game back with the Sabres, October 18, 1993 against Detroit, Boucher scored his first NHL goal as the Sabres were downed by the Red Wings 6-4. Boucher was reassigned to Rochester in late December. While there, he scored 10 goals and 22
assists and played impressively enough to be name AHL Rookie of the Week for the week ending February 10th.
|At the end of the season, Boucher was named Rochester's Rookie of the Year for the 1993-94 season. Recalled by the Sabres in February, Boucher finished out the season in Buffalo. On March 2, 1993, Boucher recorded his first two-goal game, scoring back-to-back goals in the Sabres' 7-2 win over the Ottawa Senators. Boucher played in all seven of the Sabres playoff games that season, as the Sabres were eliminated by the New Jersey Devils. Boucher scored the Sabres' only goal in their 2-1 loss in the deciding seventh game.
With a labor dispute keeping the NHL players on the sidelines, Boucher was assigned to Rochester to start the 1994-95 season. In 43 games with the Amerks, Boucher scored 14 goals and 27 assists.
By the time the NHL was set to resume, Boucher was back in Buffalo. By that point, the Sabres were looking to make a change in their goaltending situation. Dominik Hasek had emerged as the team's starter while Grant Fuhr sat out injured, leaving Fuhr an overpriced backup. Sabres GM John Muckler set out to resolve the situation and began to shop Fuhr around.
|On February 14, 1995 a deal was struck that sent Fuhr, along with Boucher and fellow defensive prospect Denis Tsygurov to the Los Angeles Kings. In exchange, the Sabres received backup goaltender Robb Stauber, veteran defenseman Charlie Huddy, hot young defenseman Alexei Zhitnik and a 5th Round choice in the 1995 NHL Entry Draft, which the Sabres later used to select Marian Menhart.
The deal was a good one for the Sabres, as Zhitnik would come to be a cornerstone of their defensive corps for years to come. Boucher, on the other hand, never really developed into the player the Sabres were hoping for when they drafted him in the first round in 1991. Though Boucher had a strong shot from the point, and good offensive talent, his lack of focus and defensive lapses have prevented him from winning and holding on to a regular NHL shift.
Boucher has spent six seasons in the Kings organization since being traded from the Sabres. In that time, he has never been able to carve out a steady role in the Kings lineup, often being sent down to the minors, or seated in the press box.
Philippe Boucher remains a member of the Los Angeles Kings going into the 2001-02 season.