June 07 2013 09:22AM
This past season seemed poised to be Lance Bouma's best chance yet at being able to make himself a permanent fixture on the big club. However, we never got to see if that was going to be the case.
Bouma suffered a catastrophic injury this season to his right knee, severely spraining both his MCL and ACL just three games into the AHL season. The good news is that the ligaments weren't torn, which bodes better for the future than surgically repaired tears do. He should start skating soon - if he hasn't started already - so he should be all healed come October.
I doubt I'm putting words into the mouths of the other panelists when I say Bouma's high ranking is based primarily on the opinion that he is currently an NHL-quality player. His ceiling might be the lowest of the 15 players on the list at the current time, but it's also my belief that he's got one of the better floors on the list as well - he appears to be a legit NHLer right now.
Bouma is listed as a centre, although it remains to be seen if he'll be able to play the position effectively at the NHL level. If he does, it will likely be against 4th line opponents. He plays an effective north-south game, and while we can't read too much into 43 games worth of advanced stats, early results seem okay. Based on my own observations and scouting reports, I'd place his skating ability somewhere in between average and above-average, which is always nice to have in a mucker-type prospect.
Bouma had the same ranking on year's Top 15 countdown as well, coming in at 8th spot. His lack of playing time this year obviously wasn't a factor for the panelists in ranking him.
The 6'2, 215 pound 3rd round pick (78th overall) will likely be written into this year's starting roster, but he'll have to sign a new contract first - his ELC expires on July 5th.
For all the wrangling this year regarding toughness and grit, Bouma is the type of player you want on the ice filling those roles because he can be those things without taking away from the team in other areas. Something as simple as this results in an upgrade on at least three Flames forwards last season.
Last year Kent compared Bouma to Brandon Prust both statistically and anecdotally. The two seemed to be following the same sort of career path prior to Bouma's injury. He may not have the offensive abilities of Prust (that was an odd statement to write) but the Flames should find him to be a useful NHLer for a number of years.