Philadelphia Flyers Midterm Top 25 Under 25, No. 18: Marc-Andre Bourdon

Eric Hartline-US PRESSWIRE

The defenseman who played 45 games with the team in 2011-12 and then dealt with concussion issues for almost two years is cleared to play, but he faces a long road ahead of him to show he can be a contributor at the NHL level again.

Marc-Andre Bourdon

Position: Defenseman
Birthdate: September 17, 1989 (age 24)
Acquired via: 2008 NHL Draft - Round 3, Pick 67
Current Team/League: Adirondack Phantoms, AHL
Nationality: Canadian (St. Hyacinthe, QC)
Size: 6'0", 225
Contract: $612,500 per year through 2014

At this point in time, it is impossible to talk about Marc-Andre Bourdon without talking about his health problems. He had two separate concussions that basically kept him out of hockey for over a year, and was only cleared to resume playing hockey about three weeks ago. There's still some doubt out there that he'll stay healthy enough long-term, and he faces an uphill battle in (a) staying healthy and (b) making his way back up to the level of play that got him into 45 NHL games in the 2011-12 season.

But since we're here, it's worth noting that you almost forget that the act of getting to the NHL level was a pretty long time coming for Bourdon -- and not one that always seemed like a given.

If you've forgotten, Bourdon was brought in the Flyers system in the 2008 draft with a pretty respectable pedigree of scoring from the blue line in the QMJHL. He scored 59 points in 69 games in his draft year with Rouyn-Noranda, and then 60 points in 54 games the year after. Certainly good numbers for a guy who hadn't reached 20, and it gave the Flyers some hope that they'd found a decent blueliner.

Then, as so many do, Bourdon made the jump to the AHL and had a bit rougher a go of things. The points didn't quite carry over for him in Adirondack, and as a result we saw a lot more of other things from Bourdon. Such as fights.

Former BSH editor Geoff Detweiler wrote a great piece about how far Bourdon's stock had slipped in Adirondack back in April of 2011, and he made it clear that Bourdon had fallen out of the team's favor:

Last Saturday, I tracked the Phantoms' big four's ice time, and Bourdon was given less than ten minutes. It's hard not to speculate on why Bourdon has suddenly started fighting a lot more. With his point totals not translating to the AHL and his ice time slipping, it probably isn't a coincidence that his fight totals are increasing. At least not in this organization.

That was April of 2011. So go figure that seven months later, Bourdon found himself making his season debut for the Flyers.

Now, granted, had some things not gone awry for the Flyers that month (Chris Pronger's career ending, Braydon Coburn also getting hurt), there's a pretty good chance we aren't having this conversation and Bourdon keeps playing in the AHL forever. But sometimes you get an opportunity and you've just to run with it -- and Bourdon, to his credit, did just that.

Sure, he got some help along the way, since he was most frequently paired with a steady defenseman like Matt Carle. But he put on a pretty respectable performance for a good three months in a Flyer uniform, which is more than I think any of us could have asked from him coming into that season. Didn't strike you as particularly dominant at any one thing, but seemed like an OK all-around player.

You all know what happened next. Bourdon suffered a concussion at some point in time, hid it from the team as long as he could, and was eventually sent back down to the minors in mid-February following the trade for Nicklas Grossmann, at which point his concussion became more apparent. He was cleared to play again in late March, and played out the rest of the regular season with the Flyers. He begun the 2012-13 season with the Phantoms, before another concussion held him out of hockey for about 14 months, all the way up to his being cleared to resume contact a few weeks ago. He is now with the Phantoms, where he's played in six games and put up three assists.

As Bourdon tries to get back to the level he's capable of while playing in Glens Falls, there are going to be a lot questions about him. Will he be the same player he was before? Will he be much of a fighter now that he's had head injuries, given that that's what he resorted to three years ago when his job in the organization looked to be in jeopardy? What happens the next time he takes a huge hit? Where does the organization even see him, relative to other AHL guys like Mark Alt, Brandon Manning, and Oliver Lauridsen?

There's a lot of uncertainty there, no doubt. But he's worked hard just to get back on the ice, and you can bet he'll keep working to show that he can still succeed on it. It's hard not to root for the guy.

How we voted for Marc-Andre Bourdon:

Albert Allison Charlie Collin Kelly Kevin Kurt Travis
21 23 22 10 15 16 20 13

Who we voted for at No. 18:

Albert Allison Charlie Collin Kelly Kevin Kurt Travis
Mark Alt Zac Rinaldo Oliver Lauridsen Zac Rinaldo Oliver Lauridsen Valeri Vasiliev Brandon Manning Mark Alt
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