The Washington Capitals had back-to-back picks early in the second round of the 2006 draft. One selection has led to a full-time NHL player in goaltender Michal Neuvirth. The other led to a guy who languished in the American Hockey League with varying degrees of success in right wing Francois Bouchard.
Bouchard on Tuesday evening was dealt to the New York Rangers for 21-year-old defenseman Tomas Kundratek.
“Of course I’m really excited to go to Connecticut. For me, it’s going to be a fresh start,” Bouchard said in a phone interview. “I think it’s a great opportunity.”
Bouchard twice was a 100-plus-point player in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. In 2009-10 with the Hershey Bears he had 55 points in 77 games and then 10 in the playoffs en route to a Calder Cup victory. But he never got a chance to crack the Caps’ lineup.
This season he was a minus-4 with 0 points in nine games with Hershey.
Asked why it didn’t work out, Bouchard said he didn’t want to think about it. He was considered a top prospect as a second-round pick, but went through several training camps without getting a sniff of NHL action.
“It’s hard to say,” Bouchard said. “It’s part of the hockey business, the hockey world.”
Kundratek has two assists in seven games with the Connecticut Whale, the Rangers’ AHL affiliate. He will report to Hershey and be available for Wednesday night’s game.
For Bouchard, this is a chance to play top-six minutes with Connecticut and show something as part of another organization. He said he already spoke to Rangers general manager Glen Sather and Whale coach Ken Gernander and knows this is a good move for him.
“That was my goal – to play in the in the NHL since I was 4 years old,” Bouchard said. “I think I’m going to have to prove to them that I can be a call-up guy for the Rangers.”