Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Player news in late May...unusual

Typically we don't start hearing about what players will make up the next season's roster until July and August so getting news on one player was surprise enough.  But today news on a second player was made. 

First up, Chris Bourque is no longer affiliated with the Washington Capitals organization.  Since he was drafted 33rd overall by the Capitals in 2004 he has spent roughly 90% of his professional career tied to the organization.  If you discount the 20 games he played for Pittsburgh after being claimed on waivers in 2009-10, he has been a part of the Washington organization his entire career.

*Yes I know he played overseas in 2010-11, but he was still a restricted free agent in the Capitals system and was still technically a Washington Capitals prospect.

That all ended late last week.  A little over 30 days before it was ending anyways.

Chris Bourque believes that he has NHL talent.  And why shouldn't he.  I believe his talent level is NHL quality...the issue has always been his size, or lack thereof.  At 5'8" he is generally considered too short to play in the NHL. 

Well, Chris is looking to disprove that notion and told the Capitals as much.  The organization knew that he was very unlikely to resign with them once he hit unrestricted free agency on July 1 of this summer. 

So he was leaving Hershey one way or another.  The Capitals just decided that they wanted to see if they could get something for him. 

One shouldn't expect to get equal value (or any value for that matter) for a player that has played sparingly in the NHL and is set to be an unrestricted free agent in about 30 days.  You are basically offering teams a player that they would have a shot at signing on July 1 if they chose to wait.  Teams won't give up too much for that chance.

Once in a while you will see a high-end NHL caliber player coming up on free agency get traded in the same situation.  Generally though that is for players that teams are certain will start the following season in the NHL.  No offense to Chris, but I doubt he fits into that category for most teams.

Somehow though the Caps managed to flip him for a player of quality.  The Boston Bruins were apparently tired of waiting for prospect Zach Hamill to pan out and decided to take a chance on Washington's diminutive winger. 

Hamill was the #8 overall pick in the 2007 NHL draft.  He has played 256 games in the AHL since then, scoring 44 goals and adding 95 assists.  Obviously his numbers aren't comparable to Bourque's, but not many are.  (In case you were curious...Chris has 132 goals and and 263 assists in 398 regular season AHL games). 

Hamill has also played in 20 NHL games, recording 3 assists for the big Bruins. 

No one is going to try and tell you the Capitals got equal value (based on past production) for Chris Bourque.  But they did manage to turn nothing into something.  Chris wasn't coming back...Zach will be.

Hamill also fills a need for the Bears (he is a long shot to make the Caps).  He is a center.  And if you remember, the Bears had some injuries at center late in the season and struggled to find capable replacements. 

AND, Chris was a veteran, having played in more than 320 professional games in his career.  Hamill is a veteran exempt, having played in between 260-320 games in his professional career.  Therefore, Hamill is easier to work with on a roster as team is allowed to dress one veteran-exempt player each game in addition to the 5 veterans.

*Note that the NHL collective bargaining agreement is set to expire this summer which could influence rules like the one I just discussed, as well as waiver rules.  So the above paragraph may end up not being true...but based on this past season it is.

It is unfortunate to see Chris leave as he is a good player and seemed to come into his own the past year or so.  Both him and the organization left open the possibility of him returning down the line if it doesn't work out in the NHL, but I for one am hoping to see him succeed and stick with the Bruins.

At the same time though, I am excited to see what Hamill can do in Hershey.  Players routinely came to Hershey and saw their skills really brought out of them and they exploded for big seasons.  Hamill might be the same way. 

So that's one player news item down, one to go.  This one will be much shorter.

Dany Sabourin will likely be a Bear 2012-13.  He resigned with the organization for the upcoming season and barring injuries will be in Hershey for the campaign.

Dany had a solid season this year and it will be great to have him back to help young Philip Grubauer, who is expected to make the jump from the ECHL to the AHL. 

So there you go.  Two players you can expect to see in Hershey this upcoming season that we either didn't know about last week or weren't sure about last week.  And I think both are good for Hershey.

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