HabsWorld.net -- 

The Rene Bourque saga has taken another turn as today, he cleared waivers and
has been sent to the AHL’s Hamilton Bulldogs.  While he could still
be recalled at some point, there’s a good chance that this will mark the end of
what has been a frustrating tenure since he joined the Canadiens midway through
the 2011-12 season.

Unfortunately for the Habs, Bourque was unable to carry over his strong
postseason efforts into the regular season.  In the 2014 playoffs, he was a
force, picking up eight goals in just 17 games as he and Lars Eller teamed up to
form a surprisingly dominant duo.  This year, however, Bourque has just two
assists in 13 games with a painful -9 rating while playing just 12:20 per game
(just slightly ahead of Brandon Prust and Manny Malhotra who primarily are
fourth liners).

To say his tenure with Montreal has been a rocky one would be an
understatement.  Bourque was part of the infamous mid-game Mike Cammalleri
trade (that also netted Zach Fucale) but he was also suspended at the time of
the acquisition.  It’s rare that players are traded in-game but it’s just
as rare when a player gets traded in the middle of serving a suspension. 

Pierre Gauthier, the GM at the time the trade was made, was hoping that
Bourque could provide some much needed secondary scoring and after coming off of
seasons of 27, 27, and 21 goals in his three full years with Calgary, there was
some reason to believe that he could.  Instead, the 32 year old has
provided the team with just 21 regular season goals in 141 games with the
Canadiens and has just one tally in his last 32 contests.

As a result of him clearing, the team has sent Bourque to the
Bulldogs.  This does not provide full cap relief as ‘buried’ players once
did but the team will still save a little bit.  The Habs will save a
pro-rated $925,000 on the cap (calculated at $375,000 plus the league minimum
salary which this season is $550,000); those savings will likely be mitigated
somewhat should the team choose to summon a replacement forward from Hamilton
(perhaps Drayson Bowman who was quietly re-assigned back to Hamilton late Sunday

Should they decide to recall him at some point (which isn’t out of the
question, this may just be to get him some playing time and confidence), he
won’t have to go through re-entry waivers as those were done away with in the
most recent CBA.  GM Marc Bergevin also has the option of trading Bourque
while retaining salary; teams can retain up 50% of a players’ remaining salary
and cap hit to facilitate a trade. 

A trade with retained salary is a much more ideal option than buying him out
at the end of the season.  The most Montreal could retain is a
$1,666,666.66 cap hit (pro-rated this year, full in 2015-16).  If they were
to keep him in the minors for the rest of this season, they’d have a pro-rated
$2,408,333.33 cap hit on the books this season, a $1,666,666.66 cap hit in
2015-16, and an $833,333.33 cap charge in 2016-17.  Suffice it to
say, expect Bergevin to actively pursue a trade while retaining salary in the
near future.

Bourque’s Stats