Facing a surplus of defensemen, the Ducks on Thursday traded defenseman Bryan Allen to the Montreal Canadiens for left wing Rene Bourque, who carries a hefty salary cap hit of $3.33 million this season and next.
Bourque, who will be 33 in December, had three consecutive 20-plus-goal seasons with Calgary but never approached that success after the Flames traded him to Montreal.
This season, he had no goals and two assists in 13 games with the Canadiens. He had been assigned to Montreal’s American Hockey League affiliate in Hamilton, Canada.
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray said Bourque will report to Anaheim once his immigration/work visa issues are sorted out.
"I definitely think I have a lot more to give and I think I'll show it with a new team," Bourque said on a conference call. "I think to have a fresh start, to clear my head and get back on track will help me a lot. It's been a long week, so to get the news today is obviously really nice."
Murray said he had explored a deal for Bourque in June.
"We talked about it at the draft, but we thought our group of forwards were OK at the time and we had been working on the [Ryan] Kesler deal," Murray said on a conference call. "The way things have gone, I'm not particularly happy with the play of our forwards so far. He's a big body who can skate, so he'll get an opportunity."
This season, the rapid improvement of the young Ducks defense made Allen expendable. That, along with some newer concerns, up front.
Bourque has played 573 NHL games with Montreal, Calgary and Chicago and has 142 goals, 278 points and 474 penalty minutes in his career. He is big (6 feet 2, 217 pounds), strong and exceptionally fast. However, his inconsistency has befuddled one coach after another. Montreal finally said enough earlier in November, putting him on waivers and assigning him to their American Hockey League affiliate in Hamilton, Canada.
Bourque for Allen represents a de facto swap of NHL salaries, but it doesn't mean there isn't an upside for the Ducks. Last spring, Bourque happened to go on one of his scoring spurts during the playoffs. As the Canadiens made it all the way to the Stanley Cup semifinals, Bourque led the team in goals (eight in 17 games) and hits. But that run — 11 points in 17 games — followed a regular season in which he managed just 16 points in 63 regular-season games.
The recent emergence of Josh Manson as a capable defender helped make Allen expendable for the Ducks. He was considered the team’s seventh or eighth defenseman and had not been scheduled to play at Vancouver on Thursday. The Ducks’ depth on defense extends to having Ben Lovejoy and Mark Fistric out of the lineup because of injuries.
Allen, who signed with the Ducks as a free agent on July 1, 2012, had no goals, 17 points, a plus-21 defensive rating and 113 penalty minutes in 115 games with the team. He had one assist and four penalty minutes in six games with the Ducks this season.