Jay Bouwmeester's days in Florida are over.
The Panthers have traded the 25-year-old star defenceman's rights to the Calgary Flames for the rights to blueliner Jordan Leopold and a third round pick (67th overall), which the Panthers used to select right winger Josh Birkholz.
The trade gives Calgary a window of exclusivity in negotiating a new contract with Bouwmeester and his agent. Bouwmeester can become a free agent on Wednesday.
TSN's NHL Insider Bob McKenzie spoke about the possible money issues for the two sides in making a potential deal.
"There are salary cap considerations that need to be addressed for the deal to get done, and I don't mean the cap that the Flames need to live with, I mean the one that Bouwmeester has to live with - the Dion Phaneuf cap," McKenzie said. "Bouwmeester won't be offered more than the $6.5 million a season on a multi-year deal, that Phaneuf is making."
Despite trade rumours that swirled around him on deadline day, Bouwmeester remained in Florida, playing out the final year of his contract, which allowed him to become an unrestricted free agent at season's end.
The native of Edmonton, Alberta played his entire six-year career with the Panthers after being selected third overall by the club in 2002. He had 15 goals and 27 assists in 82 games this season.
Whether the Alberta connection is enough for Bouwmeester to not become a free agent in a matter of days remains to be seen.
"The Flames obviously traded to negotiate, and I think they now have a leg up on everybody else, and they'll give it their best shot," McKenzie said. "It wouldn't surprise me if they got something done, but I'm not holding my breath either."
If Calgary can sign the blueliner, McKenzie also speculated that the odd man out for the Flames could be forward Olli Jokinen for financial reasons.
Leopold, 28, was a second round (44th overall) draft pick of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in 1999. He played three years in Calgary before joining Colorado for two-plus seasons. He was reacquired by the Flames last season on March 4.
In 355 NHL games, the Golden Valley, Minnesota, native has 29 goals and 80 assists with a minus- 15 rating.
Leopold is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1.