Pierre-Marc Bouchard has had a tumultuous few years since missing all but one game of the 2009-10 season with a concussion. It's already amazing that he was able to come back, but to not have missed a step was even better. Sadly though, Zach Bogosian decided he wanted to try to ruin his career and concussed him again last season and now, he has an extensive concussion history. Still, he isn't licked yet, as he was able to come back into the lineup in the beginning of the half-season and has stayed healthy so far.
This doesn't mean there are no many questions surrounding him, it just means they're different questions. Bouchard is a UFA at the end of the season and to say his future is uncertain is the understatement of the week. He has lost a step, although he's on a nice run. Is there still room for him on the Wild after this season? Will another team take a risk on a man whose career could end with another big hit to the melon?
Let's take a look at some of his numbers:
- Last year of contract with a 4.08 million cap hit.
- 15 points (4G, 11A) in 29 games. 4 games missed due to healthy scratch, one due to illness.
- Has 10 points in last 9 games since return from healthy scratches. Despite this, he has posted 0.52 points per game, worst PPG since 0.36 in his sophomore season (2003-2004)
- +6 on the season, 13:43 TOI per game.
- Has missed 154 games over the last 4 seasons, including this one.
PMB seems like a more attractive option than Heater for a number of reasons right now, but he is far from perfect too. Let's put up a list of pros and cons:
- UFA after this season, ideal for rental or for keeping for playoff run.
- Could command less money to stay in NHL, seeing as teams may be reluctant to give him same amount of money given his injury history.
- Still a damn good player, as the stats have shown. Has not slowed down all that much since coming back from concussions.
- Unlike Dany Heatley, Bouchard does not have a no-movement clause.
- Still has good speed and puck handling.
- Has been playing great since being a healthy scratch.
- Not the type of player teams typically rent for playoff run.
- Cannot be relied on to score.
- Concussion history could scare teams off.
- Small in size and non-existant physical play.
- Needs to play with a scorer and/or large players to be effective.
- Reluctant to play along the boards.
The Wild have one more game before the April 3rd deadline. They are currently first in the division with a game in hand on the Canucks. They are also 8 points ahead of the 8th place Blues and 9 points ahead of the Dallas Stars, Edmonton Oilers, Columbus Blue Jackets and Nashville Predators, all tied at ninth place, with 14 games left on the season. The playoffs are becoming very likely, especially if they can string at least 2-3 more wins in the next week. They are in a position in which they may look to buy/rent some defensive help for a playoff run and they'll want all hands on deck.
The first two lines have been absolutely rolling in the last 20 or so games. After starting the season near the bottom for goals for, the Wild are now 10th in the league in that department and 9th in goal differential (+11). That being said, Pierre-Marc Bouchard could actually be seen as expendable. The second line is rolling in large part thanks to the amazing chemistry that has developped between Cullen and Setoguchi. The Wild were using Jason Zucker in PMB's spot before suffering an injury at the hands (or elbow) of Corey Perry and the line was just as effective. Zucker is currently waiting his turn in the AHL. The Wild would likely be comfortable with trading PMB for some defensive help or even picks that could be part of a trade for defensive help, because that's all they really need right now. Zucker could retrieve his second line spot and Cullen/Setoguchi probably wouldn't even skip a beat.
So this is what I think should be done about PMB. If the Wild do make a trade at the deadline, I feel it is likely to involve PMB. Maybe GMCF will choose not to screw with what works, but then again, Zucker wasn't out of place up there either.
How about you guys? What do you think?