Alex Bourret is a big get for Wichita Thunder coach Kevin McClelland this late in the recruiting season. McClelland said that numerous teams were after Bourret, who was a first-round NHL pick and has three years experience in the AHL. It wouldn’t be surprising if he earned a call-up this season.
“He’s still very young,” McClelland said. “If he comes down and puts up good numbers, we may not see him for three quarters of the season.”
Last season for the Ontario Reign of the ECHL, he has 12 goals and 37 points in 42 games. A blog called “Where the Reign Reigns” summed up his year like this:
Pros: Bourret is one of the most dynamic offensive players ever to come through Ontario. With him at left wing and Jordan Morrison at center, the Reign had a bona fide top-line pair that was as good as any they faced last season. Fighting and killing penalties weren’t his strengths, but Bourret was willing to do both when needed.
Cons: The minus-20 rating isn’t entirely his fault, but is still pretty hard to amass in only 42 games. Bourret’s fights often took him off the ice when he would have been more effective on it. He will be 25 next season and might not have the patience to stick around if the AHL call doesn’t come.
A poll on the site asked whether Bourret should be brought back. The vote was 100 to 11 in favor of his return. There is a postseason interview with him here.
The trade of Jesse Bennefield to Fort Wayne for D man Craig Cescon looks like a win for all involved. The Thunder didn’t need Bennefield’s offense (he led the team with 75 points last season), and McClelland said that it was a good move for Bennefield’s current “direction in life.”
Cescon gives the Thunder a needed stay-at-home defenseman. He’s tough (six points, 174 PIM last season) and expected to log a lot of minutes.
“He’s not flashy by any means, but you can’t have all flash and dash on your hockey club,” McClelland said.
The 6-2 Cescon adds even more toughness to a team that already has a couple tough customers.
“We want to be a physical hockey club,” McClelland said. “We’ve got a lot of skilled players on our team. We want to make sure everyone is comfortable wearing our jersey every night.”