Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Bourque will have to show his tenacity — of which he has a lot — to earn a regular role on the team next season.
Colorado Avalanche winger Gabriel Bourque is one of those borderline players. He’s just barely skilled enough to be in the NHL, but not quite talented enough to be a regular. He’s a role player, a journeyman.
To be clear, that still puts him, what, in the top 3% of all hockey players. I take that back — according to the Huffington Post, fewer than 1% of male hockey players get drafted, much less have actual NHL careers.
So, not throwing any shade Bourque’s way, I’m just pointing out there are still tiers among that elite bunch. And Gabriel is on one of the lower tiers.
That said, Gabriel is one of three Bourques the Avalanche had on the roster during the 2016-17 season — they had Gabe, Rene and Troy. (Ok, the latter is Bourke, but that’s just the anglicized spelling.) Gabriel is the only one left anywhere in the NHL.
And he will be with the Avs next year. Let’s explore what his potential role with the team might be.
About Gabriel Bourque
Position: Left wing/right wing
Weight: 206 lbs
Gabriel Bourque was drafted in the fifth round in 2009 by the Nashville Predators. He spent an additional season in major juniors before joining the Predators AHL affiliate. For the next two season, he bounced between the NHL and AHL.
Bourque stayed at the NHL level for two years — from 2013 to 2015 — with the Preds, before starting the bouncing around again. He was an unrestricted free agent in 2016, but Nashville didn’t tender him a qualifying offer. Colorado offered him a PTO, and he made the team.
Bourque didn’t see much time in the NHL in the 48-Point Lost Season — just six games. However, he spent the majority of last season with the Avalanche.
All-time, Gabriel Bourque has played 306 NHL games. He’s scored 36 goals and recorded 53 assists. He only had 11 points (5 goals, 6 assists) last season, but some of those goals were key tallies. He showed enough to the team that they offered him a one-year contract worth $950,000, which is the highest salary he’s ever been offered. What’s more, it’s what he’d make at the AHL level, too.
Gabriel Bourque and the Colorado Avalanche
Gabriel Bourque is known for being tenacious. If you watched him last season, you’d see that tenacity is likely what earned him a contract. Bourque keeps coming at you and coming at you. And, like I mentioned, he scores key goals.
One of his five goals was the game-winner, against the Buffalo Sabres on February 11. What’s more, he scored two goals in the playoffs.
Here’s the Sabres goal, a perfect example of Bourque’s tenacity:
That said, Bourque was a regular on the fourth line. He didn’t get a ton of ice time — around 11 minutes per game. And he was called upon to take on some defensive duties.
As with any role player, so much of Bourque’s future for the 2018-19 season depends on his showing in the preseason. He earned a contract with a strong preseason once. His continued role — either as a fourth-liner, the 13th forward or an AHLer — starts with how he comes into training camp.
The Colorado Avalanche are in a full-fledged youth movement. Bourque, at 27, is not a veteran yet. But he’s not exactly part of the youth movement. Truthfully, I see him as a transitional player while the Avs groom their young fourth-liners — perhaps the likes of Dominic Toninato, Josh Dickinson and Vladislav Kamenev.
Bourque is tenacious, though. You never know what he might earn with his supreme work ethic.