As we wait for the Rangers' next game tomorrow night at 7:30 against the Ottawa Senators, some news to report today on the trade front. The Rangers traded defenseman Tomas Kundratek to the Washington Capitals in exchange for RW Francois Bouchard, who has spent the past three seasons playing primarily for the Caps' AHL affiliate, the Hershey Bears. Bouchard will head to the Connecticut Whale to provide some more depth at the forward position.
Bouchard, 23, is actually the younger brother of the Minnesota Wild's Pierre-Marc Bouchard. The Capitals drafted Francois Bouchard 35th overall in the 2006 NHL Entry Level Draft. After putting up monster numbers throughout his career in juniors playing in the QMJHL, Bouchard has also flashed some success playing in the AHL. His best season came in 2009, when he recorded 21 goals and 31 assists for 52 points in 77 games. Last year, however, Bouchard's numbers dipped dramatically - he scored just 12 goals and 12 assists for 24 points in 74 games with the Hershey Bears.
Tomas Kundratek, 21, was a third round draft pick in 2008 for the Rangers and before this season it looked like he was establishing himself as one of the better defensemen in the Rangers' system. This year, though, Kundratek really didn't get much playing time in the preseason and was in and out of the lineup with the Connecticut Whale as a healthy scratch. The fact of the matter is that Kundratek was eventually deemed expendable because of the plethora of young defensemen the Rangers have developed in recent years. With Marc Staal, Dan Girardi, Ryan McDonagh, Michael Sauer, Michael Del Zotto, Tim Erixon and maybe even Pavel Valentenko locked in as the Rangers' defensemen for many years to come, there was just no room left for Tomas Kundratek. Combine that with the fact that he had fallen behind veterans like Stu Bickel and Brendan Bell on the depth chart this year, and it was only a matter of time before he was moved.
To me, this seems like a move for the Rangers to add a little depth at the forward position in the organization. Before training camp opened I speculated that the Rangers could look to make a deal like this, although I thought they could perhaps get a better return for a player like Kundratek. Glen Sather has shown he isn't afraid of selling low on prospects who aren't performing, though, as we've seen from the trades of Nigel Williams, Evgeny Grachev Al Montoya, and Bobby Sanguinetti.
I'm not really sure what expectations to have for Francois Bouchard, but the Rangers obviously felt that this was the best return they could get at this time for Tomas Kundratek. It's possible Kundratek could've also asked for a trade since he wasn't playing much this season so far and saw the writing was on the wall that he quite simply had fallen out of the Rangers' future plans for their defense.
You can read the press release, courtesy of Andrew Gross, below.
New York Rangers President and General Manager Glen Sather announced today that the club has acquired forward Francois Bouchard from the Washington Capitals in exchange for defenseman Tomas Kundratek.
Bouchard, 23, has skated in 227 career games for the Hershey Bears (AHL), compiling 49 goals and 63 assists for 112 points along with 129 penalty minutes. In 2009-10, Bouchard notched career highs in games played (77), goals (21), assists (31), points (52), plus/minus (21), and penalty minutes (55). Last season, he finished seventh on the Bears in goals (12) and recorded four multi-point games.
The 6-1, 198-pounder has competed in 39 career playoff games for Hershey, registering seven goals and seven assists for 14 points, along with 38 penalty minutes, helping lead the team to back to back Calder Cup Championships in 2008-09 and 2009-10. In 2009-10, Bouchard played in 21 playoff contests, registering 5 goals and 5 assists for 10 points, along with 28 penalty minutes. He tied for second among team forwards in plus/minus (9) and tied for seventh in playoff scoring.
The Sherbrook, Quebec native was originally selected as Washington’s second round choice, 35th overall, in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft.
Kundratek, 21, has played in 77 career games for the Connecticut Whale (AHL), registering two goals and 12 assists for 14 points, along with 44 penalty minutes. The Trinec, Czech Republic native was originally New York’s third round choice, 90th overall, in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.