Every team has ‘that’ player, someone who shows flashes of being dominant
while being near invisible quite often as well. For the Habs, ‘that’
player is Rene Bourque. Since being acquired three seasons ago, Bourque
has frustrated pretty much everyone from the fans to the coaches with his
consistent inconsistency. He did, however, have a very strong showing in
the playoffs last spring. Might that mean better days are on the horizon
It wasn’t the worst of starts to last season for Bourque as he had three
goals in his first ten games. He also recorded an assist on October 5th
which is worth singling out as it was his only helper of the year until January
28th. By that point, his ice time was dropping closer to the 10-12 minute
per game range if he was even in the lineup at all. He played a little bit
better down the stretch and saw his role increase heading into the postseason.
It was in the playoffs where Bourque was at his best for the second straight
year. He led Montreal in goals including a hat trick in the first of the
elimination games against the Rangers. He and Lars Eller formed quite the
duo and were used more and more as the rounds progressed, ending their seasons
on high notes.
Season Stats: 63 GP, 9 G, 7 A, 16 PTS, -1 rating, 32 PIMS, 3
PPG, 2 GWG, 118 shots, 14:11 ATOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of
2012-13’s numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
We have a pretty good idea about where most of the players are slated to
start next season. We don’t when it comes to Bourque. The best guess
would be that he’d reprise his role with Eller on the third line with one of
Dale Weise or newcomer Jiri Sekac on the other wing. It’s not impossible
to think that he could be in a top six role either on Tomas Plekanec’s line if
the goal is to add a bit of size to what projects to be a fairly small trio.
Or, Bourque could struggle in training camp and be demoted to the fourth line or
the press box, something we saw a lot of last year.
In terms of special teams, a lot of it will depend on where he is in the
lineup. If he’s on early, he should get lots of powerplay time. If
he’s on the third or fourth line, it’s far from a guarantee that he’d receive
any sort of significant time with the man advantage. As for the penalty
kill, he’s not likely to see too much time as things stand. If Bourque
winds up with Plekanec though, I could see him getting a bit of time shorthanded
as he’ll have had to show that his defensive play is better than we’ve seen
Because of the question marks regarding his role, it’s a challenge to forecast
Bourque’s stats. That said, I can’t see them being any worse than they
were last year. Does his postseason run mean he’s going to return to his
form with Calgary where he was a threat more often than not? Probably not,
especially considering he had a good playoff run in 2013 that didn’t carry over
in any way. He probably has bought himself a chance to start back on the
third line and be more of a complementary player than one that is counted on to
produce regularly. That’s a good spot for Bourque to be in although his
end-of-season numbers may not be too pretty as a result.
Unless you’re in a particularly deep league, you’re probably best off letting
him go undrafted and wait to see how he plays in the early going. If
you’re in a deep league though, Bourque is an intriguing buy-low candidate.
Many will be down on him given his stinker of a 2013-14 year which gives him
potential sleeper status. He’s worth a look as a late round flyer in those
pools, especially those that award bonus points for goals as Bourque has had
more goals than assists in four straight years.