Leading the team in goals up until his late-season injury last year, will Gabriel Bourque bounce back and help revive Nashville’s offense?
Gabriel Bourque was one of the few notably bright spots for the Nashville Predators in a disastrous year. That is, until he was injured rolling into the final month of the regular season. Nashville had already been reeling from a March that saw them slide towards the bottom of the NHL with a monthly record of 5-6-2, yet the injury to Bourque could have possibly been one of the larger nails in the coffin. Already situated at the top of Nashville’s goal-scoring column with 11 goals heading into April, Bourque’s season was cut short due to a shoulder injury sustained April 1st against the Chicago Blackhawks. There’s no telling how well Bourque could have done in the final 12 games of the season with the hodgepodge of replacements on the lineup, yet his offensive abilities make him one of the early candidates to lead the Predators in scoring this season.
Expected to easily slot into the top six lineup, Bourque’s speed and natural skill on the wing should help boost an anemic Nashville Predators offense. Bourque has yet to play in more than 43 games in his two partial seasons with the Predators, however barring any injuries he should be in position to notch his first full NHL season this year for Nashville and is one of the handful of players that the Predators’ coaching staff is relying on to be the primary offensive contributors this season.
With the newly re-formed Central Division, goals will be at a premium. If his teammates can provide him with some open ice on a nightly basis, the speedy winger could not only find himself at the top of the Predators statsheets, but vying for top honors in the NHL. Some may be skeptical that Bourque could produce at that level, however his previous two seasons show that the 5’9″, 192 pound Quebec native has the potential to be a breakout star across the league. While the onus is on Bourque to deliver coming into the upcoming two-season extension he earned nearly one year ago from Nashville’s management, the 22-year-old former fifth round selection has the ability to make a name for himself in his budding young career.
Fighting back from a two-goal deficit, this stunning backhander from Bourque brought the Predators within one and proved to be one of Bourque best goals of the season.
Photo Credit: Sarah Fuqua
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