TRAVERSE CITY, Mich. --
Ever wonder how a young, highly touted scorer, on the verge of entering the NHL, would feel about being traded to a different organization for a defensive forward who has exceeded 20 goals only once in a six-year NHL career?
New York Rangers prospect Alex Bourret is the guy to ask. The rugged right winger was drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers with the 16th overall pick in the 2005 Entry Draft. He had 44 goals and 114 points for the QMJHL’s Shawinigan Cataractes the following season, then graduated to the AHL Chicago Wolves. Bourret (500K ) suffered an injury just before training camp last September that set back his progress and negatively affected his scoring totals early in the season. But he seemed back on track when the Thrashers traded him to the New York Rangers last February for defensive forward Pascal Dupuis.
Now, Dupuis is far from the proverbial bag of pucks, but he is considered a two-way forward with an emphasis on his defensive work. Bourret, on the other hand, is considered an explosive offensive forward with good shooting and passing skills, a gamebreaker with his offense.
It's funny how perceptions get made because Dupuis also played for Shawinigan and had 50 goals and 105 points there in 1999-2000. But Dupuis's numbers have been declining in the NHL as coaches have relied more on his considerable defensive skills.
Bourret realizes he was traded for a player with a different skill set, not an inferior player. Still, it didn't sit well and served to motivate him.
"I know about Pascal Dupuis because he's also from Quebec," Bourret said. "He's more of a defensive player and he's good. But I was a little ticked off to be traded away so I want to show them that they made a mistake. For now, I think I'm doing well, but I want to play in the NHL soon and show them they made a really big mistake.
"The Rangers are going to have a good team this year. Hartford has a really good group of young players and they're going to have a good season too. If I make the Rangers, they may not use me a lot because they have a strong team. If I play in Hartford, I'll probably play on the first line and I'll be ready at anytime that they call me up."
That wasn't the first time that Bourret was traded since being drafted. He played his first three years of junior for the same organization, first with Sherbrooke and then with the Lewiston MAINEiacs for two years after the QMJHL club moved south into the United States. He was asked if he understood why he was traded from Lewiston to Shawinigan.
"For my last year, I wanted to play in Quebec and asked to be traded so they sent me to Shawinigan and it was a great place for me to play," Bourret said. "It was only 45 minutes from my hometown of Drummondville. So, I saw my friends and family at every game.
"I couldn't speak English when I went to Maine, zero English, nothing. So, it was very tough. The second year my billet family spoke French, so it was easier for me. Then, I asked for a trade and they gave me what I wanted."
Bourret found himself on the Cataractes’ top line, a go-to guy.
"I played with Benoit Mondou, the son of former Montreal Canadiens player Pierre Mondou," Bourret said. "He played in the ECHL last year for New Jersey. He's a good player. They changed the other linemate almost every game. I had good chemistry with Mondou, who is a good playmaker. He's strong in every part of the game."
Bourret had 11 goals and 21 assists and was plus-3 in 45 games for the AHL Chicago Wolves when he was traded. He thought he had overcome his injury and was disappointed initially by the trade.
"Things were going good, but they had an older team," Bourret said. "Early on, things went well, but later they traded young guys to get better players and I was one of the traded players. That was a big surprise for me but now I'm very happy to be with the New York Rangers. I had a strong finish to the year with Hartford."
Now, Bourret is one of the most committed prospects in the Rangers' organization, a young player with something to prove.
"The Rangers told me if I work hard over the summer, I have a chance to make the team," he said. "They made some big trades during the summer but I continued to work hard to be ready for training camp. So, I'll go there and see what happens.
"I'm only 20-years-old. The Rangers may be thinking that they can wait a little bit on me because of Chris Drury and Scott Gomez. But if they give me a chance, I'll be ready to play. If they think it's better for me to go back to Hartford for another year, or even two, I'll go there, work hard and do the best I can."