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What the Chris Bourque/Zach Hamill trade means

05.27.12 at 3:44 pm ET
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The Bruins drafted Zach Hamill eighth overall in the 2007 draft. They never even got a goal out of him.

Zach Hamill (right) didn't have much to celebrate in his time in the Bruins' organization. (AP)

The Bruins finally ended the Hamill experiment Saturday night, as they shipped the forward to the Capitals in exchange for left wing Chris Bourque (son of some guy named Ray).

The trade is certainly a minor one, as both players have spent the majority of their professional careers in the AHL (they have played just a combined 53 NHL contests), but both Hamill and Bourque were names that fans of struggling teams once learned in hopes that they could help turn around their respective organizations. The teams swapped what once were big names, but are now players simply trying to catch on in the NHL.

As far as what the Bruins got, Bourque provides the organization with a fringe NHL winger who, if re-signed (he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1), could find his way onto the B’s roster should Daniel Paille elect to sign with another team. The former Boston University Terrier (he played there in 2004-05 but left after his freshman season) is now on his third NHL organization, as he has played in both the Washington and Pittsburgh systems before Saturday’s trade. In 33 career NHL games, Bourque has one goal and three assists for four points.

Bourque stands at 5-foot-8 and 180 pounds. His last NHL action came in the 2009-10 season (20 games for the Penguins), and he spend the 2010-11 season between the Swiss League and KHL before returning to the Capitals organization this season. In 73 games for Hershey in 2011-12, Bourque scored 27 goals and had 66 assists for an impressive 93 points.

Ultimately, the trade might say more about Hamill and his selection than it does about Bourque. While Bourque also failed to live up to the hype that once surrounded him, this is the case of the Bruins giving up on the player they hoped could be a No. 1 center when they took him following a last-place finish in the Northeast division.

The 5-foot-11, 180-pound Hamill’s career with the Bruins was underwhelming from the get go and never saw a particularly noticeable improvement. Though he scored 32 goals for the Everett Silvertips of the WHL in his draft year, he never scored more than 14 goals in four seasons for Providence and only scored 10 goals twice.

Hamill began the 2011 postseason as one of the Bruins black aces and practiced with the team, but left in a later round. He was not with the team as they celebrated their Stanley Cup victory in Vancouver, though the rest of the black aces — including Matt Bartkowski and Anton Khudobin – were there to raise the coveted trophy.

Last offseason, the newly named Providence head coach Bruce Cassidy called Hamill out for not taking the strides expected of him.

“At the end of the day, when you’re in your fourth year in the same organization, it falls upon yourself just to push people,” Cassidy said of Hamill. “I think the individual has to recognize what’s going on around him. A few people have passed him and it’s time for him to start passing a couple of younger guys that have come in the last couple of years. And whether he’s ready to do that, we’ll find out in September.”

Cassidy and the P-Bruins moved Hamill to wing, and they saw improved play as a result. In fact, Hamill played well enough to take Jordan Caron’s spot on the NHL roster in January. A month later, they placed him on waivers and he went unclaimed. After it all – 16 contests this season 20 career NHL games – Hamill is still looking for his first career NHL goal.

It won’t come with the Bruins.

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