The Winnipeg Jets have signed free agent forward Gabriel Bourque to a one-year, two-way contract. The deal will carry a salary of $700K in the NHL. Bourque has played the last three seasons in the Colorado Avalanche organization and will be joining his third NHL team overall.
Bourque, 28, was originally selected in the fifth round of the 2009 draft by the Nashville Predators, but continued to develop in their system and eventually found himself as an NHL regular. In parts of five seasons with the Predators, the former QMJHL star recorded 78 points in 242 games before failing to receive a qualifying offer in 2016. A free agent, Bourque decided to sign a one-year deal with the Avalanche which turned into two subsequent contracts, each only lasting a year. In Colorado he was a regular once again, and played 55 games last season before taking part in all 12 of the team’s postseason contests. He registered just nine points in those 67 games, but was a staple on the penalty kill.
Now joining his third Central Division team, Bourque will try to carve out a similar role in a new organization. The Jets have lost depth forwards like Brendan Lemieux, Brandon Tanev and Nic Petan over the last several months and may have an opportunity for a fourth-line player like Bourque to see regular minutes. His minimum NHL salary will only help them fit under the cap once Patrik Laine and Kyle Connor are signed, though players he will battle like Mark Letestu and J.C. Lipon have the same advantage of being a bit cheaper than some other minor league players.
The Jets actually have just nine forwards penciled into their NHL roster at the moment without Laine and Connor signed, meaning there will be plenty of competition for the last few spots. Bourque will need to clear waivers in order to be sent to the minor leagues, though he has done so several times in the past.