The Impact of Guy Boucher

Jeff Angus




Why did Guy Boucher choose Tampa Bay over Columbus? Elliotte Freidman of CBC sums it up best: "Word is the biggest reason was time, as in he’s got more of it in Tampa. When Steve Yzerman took over, he preached patience. "It’s going to take some time" was his mantra, repeating it often and to everyone. It’s the right path for that organization." Boucher will have time to build and mold Tampa Bay's on ice product to his exact specifications. His coaching philosophy is one centered on a consistently aggressive offensive attack. Pushing the puck up the ice is a significant part of that, and it places a huge emphasis on a defenseman's ability to skate, make plays, and pass the puck quickly and accurately.


Boucher's 1-3-1 forecheck requires mobile, confident defensemen who are able to jump into the rush and quickly retreat to the defensive zone if necessary. In Hamilton this past season, he had three defensemen break the 30-point mark (including PK Subban, who led the way with 53 points in 77 games). Kurtis Foster, the only Lightning defenseman to break the 30 point mark in 2009-10 is a free agent this summer. There are several very good offensive defensemen available this summer, both on the free agent market and the trade block. However, Tampa Bay already has significant salary committed to the back end, and on paper they have some puck movers who for various reasons struggled last season. They don't necessarily need to go outside the organization to find the players Boucher needs.


Breaking down Tampa Bay's fantasy hockey-relevant defensemen…


Andrej Meszaros ($4 million per season, signed through 2013-14)

After averaging eight goals and 37 points during his first three seasons in the league (all with Ottawa), Meszaros has averaged only four goals and 16 points during his past two seasons with the Lightning. He is big, mobile, and was a solid power play defenseman with the Senators. He is also very durable – outside of his injury-plagued 2008-09 season, he has missed only one game since breaking through in 2005-06. His contract is an ugly one, and Yzerman would have a tough time moving him. Meszaros should rebound under a new coach, as he proved in Ottawa that he could be a valuable offensive contributor from the back end.


Kurtis Foster averaged a defense-leading 3:50 of ice time per game on the power play last season for Tampa Bay, nearly double the amount Meszaros saw (2:10). Boucher's system will allow for scoring chances at even strength as well, but Meszaros