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After a disastrous debut in 2011-12 upon being acquired from Calgary, Rene Bourque's first 'full' season with the Habs was a step in the right direction. His ability to play both wings proved beneficial as he moved up and down the lineup while he finished the year on the top line. It appears Bourque could very well be 'Mr. Versatile' again, how will that affect his production for the 2013-14 campaign?
It was a tale of two halves for the 31 year old winger. In the first half, Bourque got off to a strong start, collecting 10 points in his first 14 games. After that, he had just three points in his final thirteen games while suffering his second concussion since joining Montreal, costing him 21 contests. Nonetheless, he was able to best his output following the Cammalleri deal in eleven fewer games. In the postseason, Bourque often found himself on the top line, in large part due to the barrage of injuries the team suffered. He was one of only two forwards (the other being Brendan Gallagher) to score multiple goals in the Habs' first round loss to Ottawa.
Season Stats: 27 GP, 7 G, 6 A, 13 PTS, -1 rating, 32 PIMS, 2 PPG, 1 GWG, 63 shots, 16:19 ATOI
(Because of the lockout-shortened season, we are pro-rating all of 2012-13's numbers over a typical 82-game year.)
Bourque's likely role is going to change regularly throughout the year. Though a natural RW, he'll likely often see time on the left side, which will provide him with a chance to play on any of the top three lines. If the coaching staff wants to keep the young line of Galchenyuk-Eller-Gallagher together as the third unit, Bourque should slide in on the second unit alongside Tomas Plekanec. The other winger would likely be one of Brian Gionta or newly acquired Daniel Briere.
However, I expect him to see a drop in powerplay time from the 2:43 per game he had last season. The young line will need to get more time than the very little they had last year while the likes of Plekanec, Briere, Max Pacioretty, and David Desharnais are likely assured spots with the man advantage as well. That could leave Bourque in more of a third PP role although injuries and demotions will still give him some opportunities. Bourque took on a role with the penalty kill late in the year and in the postseason and did reasonably well, I'd look for him to see more time there than the 0:29 ATOI he saw last year.
A spread-out attack is always nice to have as a fan of a team but it doesn't bode as well for fantasy owners, particularly when it comes to Bourque. Although he'll still see some time in the top six and on the powerplay, he's a strong candidate to cede ice time as the likes of Galchenyuk and Gallagher take on higher workloads. That coupled with his injury history (he has already had seven different injuries costing him 10+ games in eight NHL seasons) makes him a risky selection in your pool. I wouldn't be comfortable with him being higher than a fourth winger at the left wing in most leagues; he could pass as a third winger in deep ones. He has had more goals than assists in four of the last five years so bump him up a notch or two in leagues that place higher value on goals but don't think about taking him until late in your draft.
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