Pierre-Marc Bouchard Began his career with the Minnesota Wild, and will be starting his tenth year with the club in 2012 (that is, if there is even a season to be had.) Fans have watched him develop into a top-six playmaker, effortlessly skating around defenders and making incredible passes to set up highlight reel goals for teammates.
But he is also entering the final year of his contract, and he carries an average annual value of $4,080,000. He will be entering his age-28 season, and I have to wonder whether the front office sees PMB as an integral part of the team going forward.
From 2005-06 through 07-08, Bouchard averaged 81 games played, with just under 17 goals and 43 assists for 55.33 pts per season. Then, he started having concussion troubles (certainly no fault of his own) and has missed 160 games over the last four seasons, including all but one game in the 09-10 campaign. In the games he did play, he has averaged just 0.63 pts/gm.
When healthy, there is no doubt that he has great abilities as a skater and playmaker, and he could be a vital part of the team at even strength and on the power play (although last year he did not produce well at all on the man advantage, posting just 7 power play points in 37 games played, good for 0.19 pts/gm.)
The sad reality is that until he puts together another full season, the team just doesn’t know if they can rely on Bouchard. Will they offer him an extension mid-season? I think it’s unlikely that they would do so given that he hasn’t made it through a full season in four years. Even if they do, what kind of salary would he expect, given that his ceiling has been about 65 points? The Wild have a lot of young talent coming up through the system, and while it would be sad to see him go, I think the writing is on the wall for PMB, and it wouldn’t surprise me to see him wearing another team’s sweater in 2013-14.