Sunday, October 18, 2015

Gabriel Bourque Autograph Card

Not many people outside of die-hard Nashville Predators fans know who Gabriel Bourque is, and even those who follow the team relatively closely seem puzzled by his points production at times.

Here's the gist of it: yes, the 5'10'' power forward that the Preds took 132nd overall in 2009 was a point-per-game player in Juniors for the Baie-Comeau Drakkar, but at that level his physical strength was too much for late teens and young adults to handle.

In the NHL, sure, he can dig the puck out of the corner, he is among the fastest forwards on his team and he's a terrific forechecker, doubled with a sound player defensively - but he will rarely line up with the type of sniper who will provide him with the ''hard work'' assists that someone like Brendan Gallagher might obtain, as the snipers who could help him are already playing with the elite passers anyhow, so Bourque is relegated to shut-down duty and penalty-killing ice time.

His 11 goals in 34 games in 2012-13 were a bit of fluke; he does not have the type of hands to lead anyone to expect him to put up 25 goals, let alone score another 10 in a single season.

His tenacity, however, should ensure he stays in the NHL for a long time, because as we have seen this summer, top-six forwards who don't find work are rarely given a shot as bottom-six players, whereas all teams can use low-pay bottom-six grinders with huge hearts. Which accurately describes Bourque, who will make less than $900K this season. In the salary cap era, that's priceless.

Here's a headshot of him wearing the Preds' white (away) uniform, from Panini's 2013-14 Crown Royale set (card #SO-GB of the Sovereign Sigs sub-set), featuring an on-sticker blue sharpie autograph:
Like the others, it's die-cut, which adds to its charm.

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