It wasn’t the signing that most fans were hoping for when the news broke about the Jets inking a new contract. No, it wasn’t Laine or Connor signing a new deal, it was veteran Gabriel Bourque. It’s a one year contract worth $700k for the winger who played 55 games for the Avalanche last season.
#NHLJets have agreed to terms with forward Gabriel Bourque on a one-year, two-way contract with an AAV of $700,000 in the NHL.
Bourque played in his eighth NHL season and his third with Colorado in 2018-19 and had eight points in 55 games.
— Winnipeg Jets (@NHLJets) August 26, 2019
This projects to be a depth move for the team as Bourque could slot into the fourth line and provide a veteran presence alongside some younger players. There’s very little chance of Bourque moving further up the depth chart considering he’s coming off an eight point season in 55 games.
Regardless of the paltry offensive numbers, this is a smart move by the organization. The Jets have a number of question marks in the bottom six with the departure of Tanev and the youth of Appleton and Vesalainen looking for a full time spot. If Vesalainen or Appleton can’t seem to grab a foothold early on, having a player like Bourque that is able to slot in is valuable.
The other area where Bourque can provide value is on the penalty kill. The Jets can always use more players on the penalty kill and it appears that Bourque might be an upgrade over what the Jets are currently using.
Bourque did an impressive job with the Avalanche last season when shorthanded. The Avalanche in general did a decent job a limiting chances, but as you can see, they were much improved when Bourque was on the ice.
In addition to killing penalties successfully, Bourque is also able to play plenty of minutes shorthanded. He finished second among all Avalanche forwards last season with 2:30 of shorthanded icetime per game. For reference, that’s more than any single Winnipeg Jets forward (Lowry was first with 2:16 per game).
The real value that Bourque can provide to the team is to lend his services on the penalty kill to help lighten the load for others. If Wheeler and Scheifele can be removed from penalty killing duties next season, there should be a resurgence in their game. Adding a player like Bourque is a solid first step towards giving Scheifele and Wheeler more time to rest between shifts and not having to worry about killing penalties.
A cheap, depth move like this might not make a big splash in the news, but it certainly helps bolster the depth of the team heading into training camp. The strong defensive side of Bourque’s game makes him a unique option in the lineup if the Jets choose to utilize him on the fourth line.