Ryan Bourque: A Ranger in 2011?

Amid all the players battling for a roster spot this September one player that could surprise Rangers fans might be Ryan Bourque but what do the Rangers have at their disposal in the Hall of Famer’s son? Bourque could be a great option for the bottom six given his brand of hockey and could be one to look out for.

Bourque’s style fits well with the way the Rangers played last season but he needs to stay healthy. When Bourque did play he contributed offensively grabbing 59 points in 49 games for the Remparts in the QMJHL last season.  However it’s the way he plays the game that could give Ray Bourque’s son a chance to break the roster straight away.

While guys like Christian Thomas are being (rightfully) touted as dark horses to crack the line up there doesn’t seem an ideal fit given the competition and an offensive player like Thomas needs top 6 minutes which doesn’t seem likely. Bourque however, can play a bottom six role, help establish a forecheck and provide a bit of offensive on occasion too.

Bourque may be a good option on Brian Boyle’s line if Tortorella decides to break up the Fedotenko –Boyle – Prust trio. Replacing Fedotenko with Bourque gives the line more speed, more offensive upside and in turn Boyle and Prust can help protect the smallish rookie winger. It seems a win-win scenario.  However, is Bourque ready for prime time hockey in his first season as a pro?

Every time Bourque has stepped up a level he has seemingly succeeded. Having played effectively for US U-18 squads, Bourque played two solid years as a Quebec Rempart. During that time Bourque played for the US WJC team twice where his role was more of a defensive one. He played effectively in a checking role playing a key role in helping the US team earn gold in 2010 proving he can adapt to a different role as well as handle elite competition.

Are there roster spots up for grabs? There may not be a spot to have, depending on how secure you think Sean Avery, Wojtek Wolski and Erik Christensen are on the current roster. If one or two of them can be outplayed then a rookie like Bourque can make it with a strong camp. Indeed, if Wolski and Christensen aren’t deemed worthy of top 6 spots then Bourque is a better fit on the lower lines anyway.

In recent times the Rangers have given chances to players if they have earned them. Mike Sauer forced the Rangers to keep him on the roster last season and Derek Stepan bypassed the minors thanks to an impressive display of skill and maturity. Starting in Traverse City where he’ll need to have a strong showing Bourque isn’t without hope to crack the Rangers line up and he’d be a good story to follow if he makes it.