On Deck: Pierre Marc-Bouchard on top line with JT and Moulson?

The stars may be aligning perfectly for veteran Pierre Marc-Bouchard. Word has been circling around the Islanders that he will be joining John Tavares and Matt Moulson on the first line for the beginning of the 2013-14 season. While this is simply conjecture at this point, it has to Marc-Bouchard grinning from ear to ear. John Tavares and Matt Moulson have a tendency to find the net and their scoring prowess could leave him with many juicy opportunities. As a member of the Minnesota Wild, Bouchard has been uninspiring and mediocre scoring less than 20 goals in every season but the 06-07 campaign. This is likely to change if he flanks Moulson and Tavares on the top line. (Photo Credit: Flickr/puckster55pics)

What has history taught us about the lovable duo of Tavares and Moulson? Well, we have learned that they have the ability to make whoever plays as the third cog, an offensive threat. With the playmaking ability of John Tavares and Matt Moulson’s nose for the net, it is easy to see why P.A. Parenteau and Brad Boyes enjoyed decent offensive seasons in Islanders uniforms. There are some that believe that P.A. Parenteau can thank John Tavares alone for his 4 year, 16 million dollar contract with Colorado Avalanche. Good things tend to happen when 91 is on the ice.

Most fans would be happy to recreate Parenteau, who saw a career high in assists during his run wearing the number 15 for the Islanders. Marc-Bouchard has been a decent NHL player, who has spent a lot of the time plagued by injuries. He is a Minnesota Wild lifer who has stuck with the team since they drafted him in 2002. He will join Cal Clutterbuck in what seems like a world away from Minnesota when they both step foot on the ice in Uniondale for the first time in October.

Following an Islanders’ preseason tilt, Bouchard noted to Newsday that he will do whatever he can to stick with Matt Moulson and John Tavares on the New York Islanders' top line. With Tavares a year older, stronger and smarter we are seeing the Islanders’ captain taking the team into his own hands. He has teammates licking their chops in hopes to get a chance to play with the elite JT.

The transformation that Tavares has provided for a once floundering franchise has been staggering. He has been the stable foundation that the Islanders hoped to build around when they chose him over Victor Hedman in the 2009 NHL draft. He has been everything that they could have wished for and more. If Tavares continues to aid in revitalizing careers of his line mates, he will begin to attract bigger ticket free agents.

Pierre Marc-Bouchard is the newest Islanders reclamation project and the team has a good track record as of late. Besides seeing success with Parenteau and Boyes, they have collected the rejected and released players from all over the NHL to form a scrappy and hungry NHL team. Names like Moulson, Grabner, Hickey, Nabokov, Strait and Finley have thrived on Long Island after being cast away from their respective franchises. Fans should expect that Garth Snow has a knack for finding treasure in other teams’ trash which means that Pierre Marc-Bouchard will be wildly successful in an Islanders’ uniform.

There is hope that he can stay healthy enough to benefit from the talent around the Islanders.  There is also a thought that he will be able to find that scoring touch that he had in QMJHL for the Chicoutimi Sagueneens.  In 2001-02, PMB netted 48 goals and the Islanders are hoping that their new captain can awaken that dormant scoring machine.

There is one certainty about Pierre Marc-Bouchard and that is he will have to earn staying on this line if he is awarded the spot out of training camp. There are plenty of willing and deserving candidates that could be next in line if he can’t seem to find his niche.

The greatest aspect about the 2013-14 New York Islanders squad is that there is enough talent on this now playoff experienced roster that there is competition amongst themselves. Coach Jack Capuano has made it clear that no spot is safe in terms of playing time. Just ask Kyle Okposo, who had to play his heart out to get back in good graces with the team after a sluggish start to his season.

This healthy competition is creating a new culture around the wiser Islanders' squad. Pierre Marc-Bouchard will be joining a club that is eager to make that next step after tasting minimal playoff success. He will have to bring a high energy and intelligent game to remain relevant on a team that has plenty of talent to leave him in the dust.

-Steve Giangaspro

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