Seasons With The Wild: 9
The Wild drafted Pierre-Marc Bouchard with the 8th overall pick in 2002. He was coming off a season in the QMJHL where he posted a line of 46-94-140 in just 69 games played. Without a doubt, the Wild made the best possible pick at that point in the draft (Only two other players drafted in the first round, behind PMB, made an All Star Game), a rare credit to former GM Doug Risebrough.
Bouchard played 50 games for the Wild the following season. What they found, was a forward with great hands and elite vision on the ice to create scoring plays. He also used his phenomenal foot work, to turn defenders and goalies alike inside out, while him and his teammates were on the attack.
It took him two full seasons with the Wild, before he finally made his breakthrough. In the 05-06 campaign, Bouchard ranked third on the team in scoring (17-42-59), only trailing the big stars of Rolston and Gaborik. In the following two seasons respectively, "Butch" scored 57 and 63 points, while playing in 163 out of a possible 164 games.
Following the 2007-08 season, the Wild signed Bouchard to a 5 year extension. And now we are in the final year of that contract (Lockouts do not stop the contracts from going. If a year is lost, the player loses a year on his contract), and it has been disastrous. In the first game of the 09-10 season, Bouchard suffered a concussion, and never played again that year. He had played in parts of the next two seasons to follow, but he still battled post concussion symptoms, which is why he was held out more times than none.
He has yet to fully return to that player he once was. Should the lockout end, and any type of season gets saved, Bouchard should be at 100% (Fingers crossed!), and we will get to see a glimpse of that great player one more time. Because his future in a Wild sweater, beyond the 2012-13 season, is very uncertain.
Check back tomorrow and see who comes in at #5!
#10-Dwayne Roloson/Manny Fernandez
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