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Prospect Pulse

The Rangers’ Alex Bourret might be one of the best examples of a highly touted prospect flying under the radar. Originally drafted by the Atlanta Thrashers in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, Bourret continued to improve his play after his draft year, posting a nearly 30 point improvement in the 2005-2006 QMJHL season. Injured early in his first pro campaign, Bourret bounced back and was producing nicely for the Chicago Wolves when he was traded to the Hartford Wolfpack, the Rangers AHL affiliate.

He posted 18 points in the final 23 games with Hartford while skating on the top line with Nigel Dawes and Jarko Immonen. Bourret stepped up his game in the playoffs, going 3-8-11 in 7 games. The improved performance at crunch time may be Bourret’s calling card, as he has produced at least a point per game in all the playoff series’ in which he has been involved.

A combination of impressive skill and physical tenacity, Bourret does not shy away from the corners or traffic and can make plays in both of these areas. He will stick up for teammates and is not afraid to intimidate opponents with his size. The knock on Bourret is his consistency, but this can be said about any young player, so I don’t know why scouts even bother anymore. Like other young players, Bourret will make bad decisions with and without the puck from time to time.

Bourret noted that his slow start in the AHL was partially due to the fact that he spoke no English and had trouble adjusting to life in Chicago. Wolves Coach John Anderson took the right approach, pairing him with a French teammate and giving him the odd game in the press box with an assignment to watch what players do in certain situations.

The Rangers expect Bourret to be a solid two way player who grows into his offensive game. If he can build on his impressive first year of pro hockey, he will be a legitimate top line forward who can score from anywhere. Currently playing well at Rangers’ camp, Bourret may get an extended look from the Rangers thanks to his physical play and offensive prowess.

A video interview with Bourret can be found here.

UPDATE: Alex Bourret was sent back to Hartford by the Rangers.

News You Can Use in the Late Morning:

-Avs’ prospect and Michigan alum TJ Hensick hopes to make the team out of camp.

-A look at the Rangers’ top prospects from Hockey’s Future.

-The Coyotes have their own MySpace page. Oh Phoenix, the rest of the world, including Illegal Curve, is on Facebook. Only pedophiles and Marc Hoe are left on MySpace.

RDS reporting that the Sharks may be interested in Halak. If Price plays well in camp, Halak may be expendable.

Martin Gerber stops 52 shots for a shutout in London, Ontario. This might help Ottawa move him, if thats what their intentions are.

–Oilers tough guy? Zach Stortini fighting for a job.

-The Sabres’ Larry Quinn still mad at Edmonton for the Vanek offer sheet, won’t consult Edmonton in preparation for the Ice Bowl. Also news in Buffalo, Quinn misses nap time, throws tantrum, gets sent to bed without supper.

–Former Prospect Pulse feature Marco Insam cut by the Regina Pats. May be headed to the USHL or Italian pro hockey.

Top Ten Stories to watch in the OHL.

Live-blogging from Capitals’ camp.

-The WHL roundup from Taking Note.

-Interesting insight from the Bruins’ Andrew Alberts.

Jonathan Toews gives Chicago fans a taste of his talent. Also note that the Blackhaws returned Akim Aliu to junior.

North Bay impresses. Maybe Jim Balsillie can move a team here?

Kip Brennan takes down Zdeno Chara in a fight. Do the B’s really want Chara fighting in the pre-season?

Greg Wyshynski weighs in on expansion over at Fanhouse. Also note the Senators preview below main story.

Offside looks at Dominik Hasek.

-The Wild look to start the year with clearly defined roles in net.

Capitals pin their hopes on Nylander.

-A preview of the OHL.

-A Buffalo Sabres preview.

-The WHL Top Ten list.

Voice of the Jets howling mad over his treatment by the Coyotes.

-An update on the Rob Ramage situation.

Nick Foligno adjusting to the pro game.

-Wes Goldstein analyzes goalie competitions in the NHL.

Tampa Bay still experimenting with line combinations.

Lightning camp exhausting for players.

-Results from the minors and juniors.

-NHL Board of Governors agree to schedule changes.

Naslund told to shoot more if he wants to increase production. I am labelling this one as obvious.

Vokoun not concerned about poor outing in Edmonton.

-Coyotes hope a road trip will produce a clear cut #1 goalie.

-News and notes from Stan Fischler. Note that the NHL is moving its HQ in New York and will be opening a hockey store.

–Oilers and Leafs talk in the Six-pack.

-Team by team checklists from the Score. Note that the Blues have invited Mike Johnson to training camp.

Note: For our returning readers, we at Illegal Curve would be more than pleased if you had any comments on our articles or news stories. We have a plethora of writers who would love to discuss the topics and enlighten you with our always accurate opinions.

For Illegal Curve, I’m Kyle Kosior