Ed. Note: From August 21st through September 16th, we will be providing previews for each player for the 2013-14 season. In no specific order, today we continue with Gabriel Bourque…
|Gabriel Bourque’s last 3 seasons|
2012-13 in review:
Gabriel Bourque was a spark plug for the Predators when he first came into the league in the 2011-12 season, and the same was true in the 2012-13 lockout-shortened campaign. He brought the same sort of physicality and tenacious play that made him successful in 2011-12 and added more offensive contribution to his game. Despite missing 14 games because of injury, Bourque still finished second on the team in goals with 11 on the season.
Bourque was one of the few forwards that had a successful season for the Predators in 2012-13. He scored most of his goals by simply going to the front of the net and either redirecting pucks or pouncing on the rebounds the goalies couldn’t control because he was blocking their vision. Bourque was a very disciplined player as well, racking up only four penalty minutes for the entire season. He even put his hands on display with a few nifty shootout goals.
The two main assets that made Bourque successful in 2012-13 were his speed and his effort level. He never gave up on a shift, and he brought a high level of consistency to his game, which is something that is hard for younger players.
Burning question for 2013-14: Can Bourque be a top six forward for the Predators?
Since coming into the league with the Predators, Bourque has shown flashes of being a good offensive contributor. He scored three goals in the first round of the 2012 Stanley Cup Playoffs against Detroit and followed that up with an 11-goal campaign in 34 games played last season. He’s got blazing speed, and he hasn’t been pushed around by anybody despite being a little undersized at 5’10″, 192 pounds.
Can Bourque prove in 2013-14 that he can be a consistent top-six forward for the Predators? Up until this point, he hasn’t really been known for his offense. It has certainly been a part of his game, but he is one of the most versatile players the Predators have. Bourque can play on the power play, kill penalties and literally play on any of Nashville’s four lines if forced to. Last season, Bourque scored more goals by simply going to the net. If he takes that same approach in 2013-14, he’s likely going to have another successful season offensively. His speed and tenaciousness are going to put him in positions to be successful on both sides of the ice.
Bourque will only be 23 when the season actually starts, which means he’s still a young player that will continue to improve. He has been a coach’s dream so far in his career. Often times coaches will say that players can’t take shifts off, and Bourque does not take shifts off. His motor is running high all the time. Bourque has proven that he’s a full-time NHL player. Now, can he prove that he can be a top-six forward? If he can, the Predators are going to have a lot of depth.