This was a season of success for Simon Bourque. He improved his production by 25%, despite a 34% decrease in Rimouski's total goals for.
With Samuel Morin and Jan Kostalek turning pro, Bourque was thrust into the #1 role on the Oceanic's blue line, and he thrived with the increased minutes and made needed improvements to his game-to-game consistency.
Perhaps the biggest reason for Bourque's increased production was his proficiency on the power play. Rimouski's captain led the team with 32 points on the man-advantage, which also was fourth in the entire QMJHL among defenders.
But with this surge in power-play production comes major concern. Bourque tallied just 14 even-strength points all season, only six of which were primary points. Even his power-play production was buoyed by secondary assists. All-in-all, he tallied just nine primary assists, compared to his 25 secondary assists.
Voting was a quite widespread. Bourque's highest vote was 14th, lowest was 32nd. The community voted him at 21st, his exact ranking once all the ballots were counted. Only four voters placed him outside of the top 25, while six placed him in the top 20.
Top 25 Under 25 History
In last year's T25U25, Bourque debuted at 30th. With an uptick in production, Bourque made a well-deserved jump to 21st this season.
Simon Bourque is a capable defender across the ice, but will most likely be more defensively inclined if he reaches the NHL level. Bourque was his team's number one defender in all-situations, but failed to push the needle in even-strength Goals-for percentage, sitting fourth among defenders on his team.
His defensive strength lies in his composure, gap control, and attention to detail. By constantly scanning the ice to shut down lanes, He is able to patrol his zone with a routine. Even on his off-side, Bourque has an impressive ability to knock down loose pucks and stymie high-speed opportunities with his stick. He plays with a tight, consistent gap between him and forwards, making him tough to beat one-on-one. His slot coverage initially appears weak (as he often lets forwards into the slot without a fight), but his knack for timing a sly stick makes it a strength of his game.
Bourque possesses an accurate and consistent breakout pass. If needed, his smooth footwork can allow him to carry the puck out, but it's not his preferred method.
The rather pedestrian offensive game that Bourque demonstrates at even-strength transforms into one of the QMJHL's best on the power play. Bourque is fairly limited from the point usually, but on the man-advantage he sneaks down low. His best shot is his low, accurate shot that flies through traffic with regularity. With a flurry of passes from the point, Bourque finds ways to open up lanes, which he doesn't normally have access to during even strength.
As mentioned, Bourque fails to shine at even strength in the offensive zone. Perhaps it's a product of his surroundings and large role, but it's clear that the offensive side won't be his calling card at the professional level. He's not a true point threat due to a lack of power behind his shot and inability to create lanes without the extra space presented on the power play.
Even defensively there are legitimate concerns. Bourque's robotic defensive style has shown a tendency to crumble against creative teams. While often successful in "desperation" plays, Bourque is forced to make these too often. Being indecisive on assignments and reaching for pucks doesn't usually burn Bourque in the QMJHL, but it will in the AHL/NHL.
The Rimouski Oceanic began a rebuilding phase this past season, which will most likely continue. Bourque will remain the team's top defender, and perhaps become even more integral to his team's success.
It's not unrealistic to think that Bourque could be one of the QMJHL's top defenders, especially if he gets traded to a contender in the second half of the season.
If Bourque reaches the NHL level, it's most likely as a bottom pairing defender. He's not particularly noteworthy in his own zone, but he has plenty of time to hone his craft.