Now, Seto played well enough on that fourth line tour of duty to escape the wrath of the healthy scratch ( Mikael Granlund, who has been stapled to Setoguchi since the beginning of the season, often times disastrously as the combination of the two and whoever else tend to get hemmed in their own zone and get waaaaaaaaay out shot by the opposition, was the healthy scratch that night.)
Now Seto's got some sort of swerve to his game, and someone else has taken his place as the recipient of "the message" and the "wrath of the scratch."
Finally healthy after another long bout of post-concussion syndrome, the skilled winger is leaned on to provide some O-fence, and yet has little to show for the 12 games he's played in. Two goals, one assist, just 15 shots on goal. The last one is key, because for a team that struggles to shot the puck (especially at even strength and in tied/close situations) PMB has a penchant for not doing just that.
|SPOILER: He passes out of this. (Courtesy of Justin Bourne)|
So why keep Bouchard? He's in the final year of his 5-year deal, one that handcuffed Minnesota for quite some time, even when he was healthy. He'll likely be cut loose in the offseason, as his roster spot can go to a Charlie Coyle, or a Johan Larsson, or whomever is deemed to be capable of contributing offensively. PMB just isn't the type of player who can succeed under any circumstance- he excels in wide-open skating-based games but disappears in the physical, drag-it-out type of contests; his best year production-wise was in a secondary role, as the top checkers faced off against Marian Gaborik and Pavol Demitra. He isn't an aggressive puckhound like Zach Parise, and since he and Granlund are essentially the same player right now, there's no sense in having two of that mold. So if Chuck Fletcher traded for Mike Rupp under the guise of getting bigger up front, wouldn't the departure of PMB inherently make the team bigger?
He's got to play in a top-6 role, except that the Top-6 looks to be filled (yet we manage one goal a game...) and his style of play just doesn't jive with the roles that come with the third line down. Don't get me wrong- he's skilled, he can skate, he can do wonders with time and space; but does he really fit want Minnesota wants to do (what is it we want our identity to be again?) as a forecheck-heavy team? Can you really see him hauling ass down and blasting a defenseman in a puck battle? It's not so much that he doesn't really fit in the bottom-6, its that he's already playing in the bottom-6.
At this point his contract is affordable- roughly two million or so and then he's UFA. What he could fetch in return is purely conjecture, but at a certain point here in the not too distant future, teams will look for help outside of their respective organizations and perhaps someone with a track record of contributing offense will look attractive.
You hate to trade away depth; but Minnesota's got it in terms of forwards; kids like Larsson and Zucker can step into scoring roles, and there are guys like Steph Veilleux and Jake Dowell to round out the bottom-6. However, Bouchard's time here is up at season's end, so why not get something for him when you can.