With the departure of Nik Lidstrom to retirement the Detroit Red Wings made a push to sign free agent Defenseman Ryan Suter. With him signing with the Minnesota Wild the Red Wings were left looking elsewhere, could that elsewhere be the Calgary Flames? Jay Bouwmeester was once a promising young defenseman when drafted by the Florida Panthers in 2002 at number 3 overall. Florida thought so highly of him they traded the first overall pick to the Columbus Blue Jackets, who would end up taking Rick Nash. They then traded a pick to the Atlanta Thrashers to ensure Bouwmeester would still be available by the third pick, Atlanta would end up taking Kari Lehtonen with their second overall pick. So to review, Florida would pass on drafting Rick Nash, a 30-40 goal scorer consistantly who I feel still has yet to reach his ceiling, and who is valuable on the trade market as we recently saw. Florida is willing to trade a pick just to make sure Bouwmeester would drop just one spot to them and pass on a solid goaltender in Lehtonen. Granted at the time Roberto Luongo was seen to be Florida’s long time goaltender that would bring them to glory.
Why give all of that up just to draft Bouwmeester? Because he was seen as being that good at the time of being drafted. Jay broke into the league after being drafted playing in all 82 games, registering 4 goals and 12 assists, a decent rookie campaign on a weak team. The following season would see Bouwmeester miss time to injury for the only time of his career, he finished that season with 2 goals and 20 points. Since then Bouwmeester started his current NHL Iron Man streak of 588 consecutive games played with the Panthers and Calgary Flames. In 2007-08 and 08-09 Bouwmeester would score 15 goals in back to back seasons, now second behind Jason Garrisons 16 goals tallied this season, Jay still remains the only Florida defenseman to record 15 goals multiple times. That however wouldn’t be repeated with free agency approaching, Bouwmeester was traded to Calgary for Jordan Leopold and a 3rd round pick. He would then waste no time signing on with Calgary for $6.6 million per season (who wouldn’t sign that?). Since then his play has slipped, could it be due to not having help on the blue line? He played in Florida, so that can’t be it, I mean it doesn’t get any worse than Florida right? Before anyone comments angrily, that was meant to be a joke.
Bouwmeester was originally paired with Dion Phaneuf a good young defenseman anchoring Calgary’s blue line, he may have seen his role change which lead to the decrease in scoring. But what about after Phaneuf was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs? Bouwmeesters play still suffered, and has since been seen as “overrated” or a “bust”. Now it’s not much of a secret that Bouwmeester is a quiet guy and likes his privacy, which in Florida without the media hype works perfectly for a player of his stature. Moving to Calgary however whether he’s the top guy or not the spotlight still gets shined on him, maybe he gave into the pressure? Looking past that he’s still recorded decent numbers from the backend, maybe not worth his salary but still not horrible. Now why would a move to Detroit be good for Bouwmeester? Change of scenery seems to put a hop in a players step and bring new confidence.
With the departure of Lidstrom and Detroit looking to fill that hole, sure some pressure would be on Bouwmeester, a great deal in fact. But if he’s allowed to just play his game I feel he’d be able to return to form and become a great in the league once again. It is Detroit afterall, if you somehow manage to fail in their system there may be something dreadfully wrong. Calgary is looking to drop salary due to the possible restructuring of the salary cap with a new collective bargaining agreement. Detroit has the room to pick his salary up without giving up assets from their roster. The question is what would they give up exactly? I believe Jay Feaster will finally buy into the idea that he needs to start retooling his prospect pool and adding pieces for the future as players like Jarome Iginla gets older. Detroit has made it evident they don’t need a high draft pick to find talent in the draft, so a first round pick in 2013 along with possibly a second in 2014 would be a good start for Bouwmeester, throw in a solid 3rd line guy or mid level defensive prospect and I feel Feaster would bite. This is all speculation as no reports of what Detroit has offered have been announced, but it’s fair value for a defenseman like Bouwmeester despite his down seasons. If he returns to form it’d be a steal for detroit as he’s still young being 28, if he remains on course then overall it’s not a big loss to a team like Detroit who is consistently solid in low round drafting.
What do you think Detroit should offer for Bouwmeester? Leave a comment and let us know.