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Numbers Game: Flames Ink J-Bo

Scott Cullen
6/30/2009 11:30:54 PM
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After acquiring the rights to defenceman Jay Bouwmeester, the Calgary Flames got the top free agent defenceman signed to a five-year deal, keeping him from hitting the open market.

Numbers Game looks at the Flames' latest addition.

The Flames Get: D Jay Bouwmeester.

Bouwmeester will turn 26 before the start of next season, so these five years will be prime years of his career and still leave him the opportunity to be a free agent again when he's just 30 years of age.

Few defencemen in the league can match the durability of Bouwmeester.  In six NHL seasons, he has played all 82 games five times and in the four seasons since the lockout, Bouwmeester has averaged more than 25 minutes of ice time per game.

He deserves more credit than just points for attendance too.  The 6-foot-4, 212-pound blueliner is an outstanding skater and while he's not a prototypical offensive defenceman, Bouwmeester scored 20 of his 42 points with the man advantage and tied his career-high with 15 goals last season.

On the other side of the equation, Bouwmeester isn't overly physical for his size, which makes him easier to play against than if he was a bruiser.  Fortunately, the Flames have enough physical defencemen on hand already and the stronger supporting cast in Calgary should make Bouwmeester more productive in terms of points (career-high is 46) and plus-minus (only once has he finished better than plus-1).

The addition of Bouwmeester gives the Flames a strong top-four on the blueline, with Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr and Cory Sarich, as Bouwmeester is a huge upgrade on outgoing Adrian Aucoin, but the greater overall concern is how the Flames will manage with Bouwmeester's $6.6-million/season salary.

As a team that ran into serious cap problems late last season, the Flames may need to shed a contract (like that of Olli Jokinen, for example) so that they can fill out the rest of their roster without resorting to shopping only in the bargain bin.

It was no secret that Bouwmeester was looking for a fresh start after six seasons in Florida and the Flames ought to provide an excellent opportunity for Bouwmeester to log major minutes, while finally playing for a playoff team, and possibly to achieve both individual and team success that has eluded him thus far in his NHL career.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca

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