Make no mistake: the Calgary Flames have held trade talks regarding Jay Bouwmeester here in Pittsburgh at the NHL Draft. They also talked about trading their $6.7 million defenceman at February’s trade deadline. I’ve been a big defender of Bouwmeester during his time with the team, but there are good reasons for the move to happen.
The first and most obvious thing that comes to mind is saving money and cap space. Getting Bouwmeester’s money off the cap can only help the team financially and can only increase their flexibility in making moves for the near future. If a big move is what the club wants to do, saving a few million dollars on Bouwmeester’s contract will only help.
Any news that is filtering out regarding a trade doesn’t seem to suggest a “your bad contract for ours” type deal. That’s a step above what was being thrown around even a few months ago. The Flames aren’t going to be getting a huge return in a trade for Bouwmeester, so all that talk of a first round pick and a top prospect are probably unrealistic. But, the fact that the team would be able to get some sort of a return and not have to necessarily eat a terrible contract? That’s a positive in my eyes.
The merits of trading Bouwmeester go a little deeper, however. Plain and simple, there just hasn’t been a fit. Because his contract is so steep and because he’s such a high profile contract, the attention is hard to escape, and right now bad attention isn’t what this team needs. And I’m not even talking from a PR standpoint. Being around the team on a daily basis last year, there was no doubting how frustrated players got at times with constant questions about the team. It’s part of the business and no one is feeling sorry for them, but it can have a negative effect.
Divesting yourself from Bouwmeester’s contract sends a fairly clear message of moving on. He was signed by former general manager Darryl Sutter, his three years in Calgary haven’t lived up to expectation, and there just doesn’t seem to be a natural fit.
Look, I have defended Bouwmeester during his time with the Flames and for good reason in my eyes. Is a $6.7 million defenceman? No, and there will likely never be a time when we consider his contract to be a good one. However, he still plays effective minutes against tough players, and a lot of minutes at that. There isn’t anyone knocking on the door to step up and fill those minutes on the Flames, so dealing him will leave a hole.
Sometimes, however, you need to cut bait on an experiment that hasn’t worked. While it hasn’t been a complete failure in my eyes, the fact the verdict has been lukewarm makes the scrutiny seem like a failure. He’s likely not being re-signed when his contract expires in two years, so if there’s a deal to make for Jay Bouwmeester, I’d probably be in favour of it.