Reports are filtering in from Twitter and the FAN960 that Rene Bourque has indeed been re-signed by the Flames to a multi-year deal. I will update this post with reactions once the details are revealed. My initial reaction is "pleased", however.
TSN claims the contract has a cap hit of $3.3M for 6 years. Score one for internet rumors.
Not too long ago, Jean Lefebvre had this word of caution for signing Bourque to such a long term deal:
six years would be an awful long commitment for a player who has shown no ability to stay healthy and, given his rambunctious and sometimes reckless style, is a poor candidate to turn into Doug Jarvis as he hits his 30s. Bourque was injured heading into the Olympic break and has missed 91 games and counting over the past four seasons with various ailments.
Those are fair points. Bourque has had a lot of trouble staying healthy and seems to be a lock to miss some 10+ games a year. In addition, one wonders how long he’ll be able to operate at this level, which is undoubtedly his peak, given the wear and tear he puts on his body.
Im going to take the opposite tact, however, and laud this signing. Mainly because, in many ways, Rene Bourque has been the Flames best forward the last two seasons. And, no, that’s not hyperbole.
Last year, Bourque faced tough competition on most nights. That, or he babysat Todd Bertuzzi with Daymond Langkow. He was the only Calgary Flame to score more than 3 points per 60 minutes of even strength ice time (3.20) – a production rate that was, in fact, the best in the entire league amongst forward who played in 30 or more games.
This season, Bourque’s production at ES has fallen somewhat (as has the entire teams), but the truth of the matter is he’s probably improved over last year. He still leads the club in terms of ESP/60 (2.38/60), but is also the best forward in terms of possession with a +9.79/60 corsi rate. That’s despite the fact that he and Langkow have spent most of the season playing other team’s primary and/or secondary scoring threats. Bourque’s advanced ES metrics are top notch and his cricumstances aren’t easy. This is a player that helps teams win games.
On top of all that, Bourque is an excellent penalty killer. He has one of the best goals against rates on the Flame PK this year (3.88/60 ) and he’s scored 9 short-handed goals in the last 3 seasons.
If Bourque has a weakness, it’s his penchant for taking bad penalties. A tencious forechecker, sometimes Bourque’s aggression and emotions get the best of him and he ends up taking selfish penalties. A guy like Bourque who spends a lot of time in the offensive zone should technically be drawing more penalties than he takes, but that hasn’t been the case in Flames colors, especially this year. If he could get that bad habit under control, he’d surely be letter-on-the-jersey material.
That said, Bourque has turned from a "why not?" off-season acquisition to a core member of the club in the space of two seasons. He’s strong, he’s mean, he’s fast, he has a bullet of shot and he can play in any circumstance. While there’s some risk that his play will fall off near the end of this 6 year deal, it’s probably a risk worth bearing given his high contributions to cap hit ratio.