Chris Bourque Follows Father’s Footsteps to Boston As Bruins Acquire Minor League Forward for Zach Hamill

The Bruins made their first move of the offseason Saturday. It featured a very familiar name but is not likely to have a huge impact on the organization.

The Bruins dealt 2007 first-round pick Zach Hamill to Washington for Chris Bourque in a swap of minor league forwards.

Bourque is the son of Bruins legend and hall of famer Ray Bourque, but he has struggled to establish himself in the NHL since being drafted 33rd overall by the Capitals in 2004. The Boxford, Mass., native turned pro after one season at Boston University, where he had 10-13-23 totals in 35 games in 2004-05. He has spent the bulk of his pro career in the American Hockey League.

Bourque has played 33 games overall in the NHL, last appearing in 2009-10 when he played one game with Washington and 20 with Pittsburgh. He also played four games with the Capitals in 2007-08 and eight in 2008-09, managing 1-3-4 totals and a minus-6 in all of his NHL stints combined.

Despite playing a career-high 21 games in the NHL in 2009-10, he went to Europe the following season, signing first with Mytishchi Atlant of the Kontinental Hockey League, then moving on to HC Lugano of the Swiss National League A. He managed one goal in eight games in the KHL and 14-19-33 totals in 39 games with Lugano.

This season he returned to both North America and the Capitals organization, putting up career-best 27-66-93 totals in 73 games for Washington's AHL affiliate in Hershey. Hershey has been home to Bourque's greatest success. He won back-to-back Calder Cups there in 2009 and 2010, earning the Jack A. Butterfield Trophy as playoff MVP in 2010 after he put up 7-20-27 totals in 21 postseason games.

The biggest knock on Bourque, 26, is his lack of size. He is listed at 5-foot-8, 180 pounds, and has had trouble battling against bigger defenders in the NHL, but he will get a fresh start in Boston, where he will try to earn a spot on one of the Bruins' bottom lines. If he does not crack the Boston lineup, he will add some valuable scoring ability and postseason experience to a Providence club that has missed the playoffs for the past three seasons.

Hamill has had his own troubles establishing himself in the NHL. He was taken eighth overall in 2007 after leading the Western Hockey League in scoring with 32-61-93 totals in 69 games with Everett in 2006-07. But Hamill has not been able to duplicate that success in the pro ranks.

He was slowed by a thumb injury in his first season in Providence in 2008-09, when he had just 13-13-26 totals in 65 games, and he never really picked it up at that level. He had just 44 and 43 points the next two years and this season had 8-13-21 totals in 41 games.

Hamill looked better in his brief call-ups to Boston, managing two assists and a plus-2 rating in four games in 2009-10 and 2010-11. The 5-foot-10, 180-pound center was shifted to wing this year in Providence and appeared to respond well to the change. He started strong again when he got another chance in Boston, with two assists and a plus-4 rating in his first three games when called up in November and then again in December. But he did not have a point in his final 13 games and was sent back to Providence for good in early February.

Hamill, 23, is due to become a restricted free agent on July 1 with the expiration of his entry-level deal. Bourque is set to become an unrestricted free agent after playing out a one-year, two-way deal that, according to CapGeek.com, paid him $525,000 at the NHL level and $300,000 in the AHL this past season.

Have a question for Douglas Flynn? Send it to him via Twitter at @douglasflynn or send it here. He will pick a few questions to answer every week for his mailbag.

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