In his first trade on deadline day, Glen Sather shuffled the deck. With his second trade, Sather played seller as he traded away Pascal Dupuis and a 2007 third round draft pick to the Atlanta Thrashers for RW Alex Bourret – the Thrashers 1st round draft pick (16th overall) in the 2005 NHL Draft.

The 20-year-old Bourret is 5-foot-10 and 205 pounds. The native of Drummondville, Quebec has been playing with Atlanta’s AHL affiliate. With the Chicago Wolves, he scored 11 goals and 21 assists with 46 PIM in 45 games.

While Bourret does not have classic NHL size, he does not shy away from physical play while showing a scorer’s touch in the QMJHL. In four seasons in Junior hockey (with three different teams), Bourret tallied 110 goals and 181 assists with 472 PIM.

“Alex is a high level prospect we are very excited about adding to our organization,” said Rangers Vice President of Player Personnel and Assistant General Manager Don Maloney said on the Rangers web site. ” We had him rated very highly at the 2005 draft and had we not traded up to get Marc Staal, he likely would have been our selection.”

Bourret was a player that I touted as a potential Rangers draft pick in my 2005 Rangers Draft Preview that I wrote during my days at Ranger Fan Central. Here is what I wrote about Bourret back in June 2005.

Alex Bourret – Center

ISS: 14 – THN: 10 – CSS: 17NA – RLR: 13 – McK: 6.

2004/2005 Team: Lewiston (QMJHL). Height: 5-9 ½. Weight: 209.

2004/2005 Stats: 65 games-31 goals-55 assists-86 points-172 PIM.

With the salary cap cramping the Rangers style of throwing money and their problems, the team will have to find ways to win through the draft. That is where Bourret steps in. Despite his short stature, Bourret packs about 210 pounds of TNT into his body. ISS says “he is built like a tank, and hits like a truck. Bourret has shown a willingness to play hard along the boards and can easily overpower bigger players. In their August 2005 edition, THN said “Bourret is a skilled scoring machine. He plays a complete game, using his speed, shooting ability and toughness to frustrate the opposition.” ISS compared him to Teemu Ruutu, while others see him as an Esa Tikkanen with a better offensive game. THN says, “It should come as no shock Bourret is a skilled scoring machine. He plays a complete game, using his speed, shooting ability and toughness to frustrate the opposition.” Bob McKenzie calls him a “fire hydrant on skates” and praises him for playing “the game hard and with an edge, often to the point of being mean, and is not without offensive ability.”

In analyzing these players, Bourret would be my first selection. He seems to have the offensive ability that [Michael] Blunden is missing and has the skating ability that [Guillaume] Latendresse lacks. The only knock might be his size, but I don’t think that should play too much of a deterrent. First off, he has already shown that he is ready, willing and able to play bigger than his size. He might have to tone it down a notch in the NHL because the players will be bigger, faster and more skilled than in Juniors. Secondly, if the NHL’s no-tolerance stance against the clutching and grabbing is enforced, then Bourret’s perceived lack of size will not be a negative factor.

Bourret did not endear himself to the Thrashers when he showed up at their training camp in September 2005. He came into camp out of shape – a mistake that Bourret learned from.

Here is how Bourret described his situation to Jon Cooper in an interview on the Atlanta Thrashers web site.

“Last year I made a mistake coming to camp not in good shape,” said Bourret, whose lack of conditioning got him off on the wrong foot with Head Coach Bob Hartley. ‘I sure was nervous and I was not ready. I thought it would be easy to play in the NHL, but it’s not. Now I know what to do. It taught me a lot.”

The hard-hitting right wing began the process of getting back on the right track when he reported back to Shawinigan of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League (QMJHL).

“I know that Bob [Hartley] talked a lot with my coach at Shawinigan,” said Bourret. “He was always on me and he helped me a lot for this year.”

So how did Bourret respond last year with Shawinigan?

The youngster ripped off career highs in goals (44) assists (70) and points (114). Toss in his 114 PIM, and you had a player on a mission.

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