The New York Rangers have traded defenseman Tomas Kundratek to the Washington Capitals in exchange for RW Francois Bouchard. The 23-year-old was the Capitals second round draft pick (35th overall) in 2006. The 6-0/180 Bouchard spent four years in the QMJHL with the Baie-Comeau Drakkar. In 259 Junior games, he scored 125 goals and 218 assists. In his last three years, he averaged 38 goals and 68 assists.

Bouchard has spent the last three seasons with Washington’s AHL affiliate in Hershey where he scored 49 goals and 63 assists in 219 games – including career highs in games, goals, assists and points (77-21-31-52) during the 2009/2010. Bouchard helped lead Hershey to Calder Cup championships in 2008/2009 and 2009/2010. He is scoreless in nine games this season with the Bears while Kundratek had two assists in 7 games with the Whale.

His biggest claim to fame is that Francois is the brother of Minnesota Wild center Pierre-Marc Bouchard.

According to Howlings.net, Kundratek had been scratched during the last few games and the Whale need some depth and offense at forward.

Prior to the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, the International Scouting Service rated him as their 68th best prospect and offered the following Scouting Report:

“Francois Bouchard; younger brother of Pierre-Marc Bouchard of the Minnesota Wild. He was consistently one of Baie-Comeau’s most dangerous players thru the regular season, finishing 13th overall in QMJHL scoring, but was less than spectacular in the playoffs. Shows excellent hockey sense, has a very good feel for the game in the offensive zone. He has all the skills to succeed at the NHL level; a good skater, very good puck and passing skills, and sees the ice very well. Plays too much on the perimeter and is easily intimidated. He will need to improve both his physical and defensive game if he wishes.”

Here some other Scouting reports on Bouchard that were listed on the Capitals official web site:

Red Line Report:
Younger brother of Pierre-Marc Bouchard had a mostly overlooked 100+ point season. Quick release on accurate shot. Moves puck to the right spot at the right time. Has a world of skill and really soft hands in tight – capable of highlight reel goals with patience around the net. Not as imaginative a passer as his brother, but might be a better finisher around the net. Has uncanny instincts and hockey sense at the offensive end. Plays in spurts – can be dominant for 3-4 shifts, then goes quiet for long stretches. Hurt himself with invisible performance at World U-18s. Wasn’t strong on the puck and didn’t drive through checks. Work ethic was lacking and got him demoted. Not strong in upper body – can be moved off the puck. Needs to bring his full talent to bear on more consistent basis.
Projection: 2nd line scoring winger
Style compares to: J.P. Dumont

The Hockey News:
While one of Francois Bouchard’s strengths is his playmaking skills, he is not quite as gifted as his older brother, Pierre-Marc of the Minnesota Wild, in that department. But the younger Bouchard is still very talented and his hockey sense is sound, too. And he holds at least one advantage over Pierre-Marc. “He has more size than his brother,” said one scout.

No kidding. Pierre-Marc is just one NHLer proving good things can come in small packages. “He [Francois] is a guy who can have success at the NHL level if you put him in the right role, say on the second line and on the second power play unit,” said the scout.

Another scout, who still considers Bouchard to be small even though he is bigger than Pierre-Marc, is certain the younger brother will play in the NHL as well. “Size and skating are issues, but he is intriguing because of his playmaking ability,” said the scout. “He is not as good a skater [as his brother], but he has great hands.”

But whoever drafts the younger Bouchard would do well to not hurry him into the NHL before his is ready, like the Wild did P-M. “He needs to be groomed a little and some time in the minors won’t hurt,” the first scout added.

Central Scouting Report (Rated #41 among North American skaters):
Is a good skater with good speed, balance and leg strength who is solid on his feet … he possesses very good hands and playmaking abilities handling the puck well in tight quarters and protecting it well … he is especially effective on the power play, reads the play well, feeding teammates with accurate passing and has very good scoring instincts … his wrist shot is quick and accurate … is quick to jump on any loose pucks around the net and can score in many ways … has very good hockey sense and is used to kill penalties … competes offensively, his positioning in defensive zone is solid and he will not hesitate to go on offense quickly … Baie-Comeau’s 1st pick, 20th overall, in the 2004 QMJHL Draft … was selected to play in the 2006 Top Prospects Game in Ottawa … also selected to the 2005-06 QMJHL All-Star Game for the Canada-Russia challenge.

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