I, like most in the hockey community, went to bed with the knowledge that Wild-killer Jarome Iginla was headed to Boston. This morning, I awoke, like everyone else, to the news that Iginla was not a Bruin. In fact, he is now a Penguin. With that said, the market is narrowing on legitimate top-6 forwards available for trade. However, could the Minnesota Wild’s Pierre-Marc Bouchard be an enticing option for Boston General Manager Peter Chiarelli as he looks to bolster his Bruins for a playoff run?
When healthy, Bouchard has been one of the most reliable players in the Wild lineup, until this season, that is. Butch started out the season on the third line with Kyle Brodziak and Cal Clutterbuck, notching a goal and an assist in the first two games of the season. The offense would then dry up for #96 as he would score just one goal and two assists in the next 18 games while notching a negative-2 rating. During that time, he fluctuated between the second, third and fourth lines, and was even a healthy scratch in three consecutive games. With the emergence of young guns Charlie Coyle and Jason Zucker, it appeared Bouchard was now the odd man out.
However, in the past seven games since being reinserted into the lineup, Butch has made a statement with two goals and seven assists for nine points and a plus-5 rating in that span. Coincidentally, Minnesota hasn’t lost since Butch was put back in the lineup. Bouchard has once again been his incredibly brilliant self and has been a key cog on Minnesota’s red hot second line with Cup-winning veteran center Matt Cullen and lethal young goal-scorer Devin Setoguchi. The second line has been great in general during the latter part of this season, with Coach Yeo being able to alternate guys like Bouchard, two time 50-goal scorer Dany Heatley and rookie speedster Jason Zucker on the opposite wing of Setoguchi. So, while Bouchard has certainly benefitted the secondary scoring, he isn’t the only option to play with Cullen and Seto.
The question many Wild fans are asking right now is if Bouchard is more beneficial as a seasoned veteran to help lead the team to a deep playoff run, or as trade bait to the right partner. One thing you can be sure of is that his stock has never been higher this season and, with the trade deadline set for April 3rd, less than a week away, teams are taking a serious look at the 8th overall pick of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Considering Minnesota hasn’t lost with Bouchard back in the regular lineup, Wild GM Chuck Fletcher is in no rush to jeopardize his team’s success. Also, the more he waits, the more valuable Butch becomes, making any deals involving him look better and better for Minnesota. If that’s what it takes to get the most value in return, you can bet Wild fans won’t complain—in Fletcher, we trust.