Thursday, January 19, 2012

So How About the New Guy?

Sure, it's only been two games and sure, Rene Bourque has yet to collect his first point as a member of the Montreal Canadiens, but in the brief time that has passed since his acquisition from the Calgary Flames, he has appeared to fit right in.

No one will ever confuse Bourque's pure skill for that of Mike Cammalleri. Cammalleri's hands give him game breaker potential when he's on. Unfortunately for the Habs, he was off more frequently than on during his tenure in Montreal, and his 5'9" frame wasn't helping his case on a team with many small forwards.

What Bourque brings, however, are elements the team has lacked. He's a big body at 6'2", 211 lbs, and even if he doesn't always do so consistently, he has shown willingness to use it effectively in throwing hits and even dropping the gloves last night to defend himself (in, what I might add, was the most impressive bout delivered by any Canadien this season). He is quick which fits in well with the team's philosophy and has a wicked release that can replace Cammy's one-knee-one-timers. While he is by no means a first line talent, on the wing of a 2nd or 3rd offensive trio, Bourque appears to be part of the solution as the Canadiens remodel. If the top 6 can be stocked with more skilled forwards, a third unit of Bourque, Lars Eller, and Andrei Kostitsyn could be effective and cause big problems for smaller defenders.

While not all trades have clear winners and losers and it is very possible that Cammalleri excels back in Calgary, either way it appears that Pierre Gauthier did well on this one. While he did add some term (with Bourque having two years extra on his deal compared to Cammalleri) and did get half a year older, he saved $2.67M on the cap for the next two seasons, upgraded a 5th this year to a 2nd round pick in 2013, and got a body consistent with the philosophy this team is heading for (to get bigger up front). Now if only he can find takers for Scott Gomez and Tomas Kaberle, we'll be ready for a new era to begin.

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