After clearing waivers recently, it was expected that Rene Bourque’s days
with Montreal were nearing an end. That came to fruition late Thursday
afternoon as the team announced that the veteran forward has been traded to
Anaheim. In return, the Habs add yet another defenceman to the fold, 34
year old Bryan Allen.
Allen started the season on injured reserve with a lower body injury and returned to
action a couple of weeks ago. In six games with the Ducks this year, he
has one assist, an even rating, and 4 PIMS while averaging 18:12 of ice time per
game. He also suited up for a couple of games with their AHL affiliate in
Norfolk, going pointless in those outings. For his career, the 6’5
blueliner has 29 goals and 106 assists in 716 games to go along with 837 PIMS.
Offence is not the name of Allen’s game as he’s a prototypical stay-at-home
defender. He’s not afraid to play physically (121 hits in 68 games last
year; 11 in his six games this year) and he blocks a lot of shots which will
help fit him in well with a Canadiens defensive corps that blocks a lot of
shots. He has ten blocks so far this year while last season, he had 118.
Allen is also capable of logging regular minutes on the penalty kill which may
the Habs to scale back Andrei Markov’s minutes in that area a bit.
Bourque’s tenure with the Habs was full of ups and downs with much more of
the latter. Although he played well in the postseason (including eight
goals in the 2014 playoffs), his regular season play left something to be
desired. This year, he recorded just two assists in 13 games with Montreal
with an ugly -9 rating. He was, however, playing well with the Bulldogs at
the time of the deal as he collected a pair of goals and two assists in just
Money is playing a major factor in this trade. Although Allen ($3.5
million) has a slightly higher cap hit than Bourque ($3.33 million), his
contract expires at the end of this year unlike Bourque who has one year left.
There is no salary/cap hit being retained on either side, meaning that Bourque’s
$3.33 M for 2015-16 is off the books entirely. On the flip side, the fact
that Allen is staying with the team means that over $1 million (pro-rated) is
being added to Montreal’s books this year, the difference between Allen’s cap
hit and Bourque’s cap hit when he was with the Bulldogs ($2.4083 million).
There are sure to be questions about the short-term future of Nathan Beaulieu
with the big club. Although he has suited up in 14 of 20 games this year,
his role had already been reduced with the addition of Sergei Gonchar and with
Allen joining the team, there are seven veterans with one-way contracts ahead of
him on the roster. Sending him back to Hamilton seems like a real
possibility (the Bulldogs assigned blueliner Bobby Shea to the ECHL this
afternoon for those looking to connect the dots) while doing so would also clear
the bulk of what has been added to Montreal’s cap as a result of the trade.
Allen will not be available for Thursday’s game in St. Louis but will join
the team in Boston in advance of Saturday’s game against the Bruins.