One website proclaimed it a “Bouw Coup.” A very neat and clever play on words, but how much of a coup was it really for the Flames to acquire the negotiating rights to lanky defenceman Jay Bouwmeester in exchange for a third-round draft choice?
The answer of course depends on the level of understanding that exists, if any, between the Flames and the Bouwmeester camp in regards to hammering out a new deal. Or it depends on how quickly Darryl Sutter can sweet-talk the d-man known as J-Bo into signing on the dotted line instead of tossing himself onto the open market and letting the offers pour in.
Sutter, who has absolutely no reason to tell the truth on the matter, claims there were no pre-trade negotiations with Bouwmeester and agent Byron Baltimore. Those with less to hide (but also with questionable actual insight into the situation) seem to be of the opinion that this is nothing more than a four-day window of opportunity to discuss with Bouwmeester. In other words, more along the lines of Montreal’s ill-fated acquisition of Mats Sundin’s rights a year ago than Philadelphia’s trade-and-sign flim-flam with Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen in 2007.
So, Flames fans, the question you have to ask yourself is: Just how much is a lottery ticket to the best free-agent blue-liner on the market worth? Is it worthy of the No. 67 overall pick. Or, to put a name on this game, is it worth a Gregory Campbell or a Kris Russell?
Those two chaps, a Florida forward and a Columbus defenceman, are the two of the better selections to come out of the No. 67 slot in the best two decades, give or take a Jim Cummins or a Brad Isbister. After that, it’s a who’s-who of who’s-that? – Kirill Tulupov, Nick Johnson, Igor Mirnov, Robin Leblanc, Max Birbraer, Evgeny Konstantinov, Alex Henry, Mike Souza, Gordie Dwyer, Craig Reichert, Mikael Tjallden, Travis Thiessen, Kerry Toporowski and Joel Blain.
But whatever you do, lovers of the Flaming-C, don’t go back 21 years. That’s because the No. 67 choice in 1988 was none other than Hall-of-Famer in waiting Mark Recchi. (And to give you an idea what kind of draft it was that year, two of the three picks after Recchi were – yikes! — Tony Amonte and Rob Blake).
Now chances are Josh Birkholz, the guy the Panthers took with the pick they got from the Flames for the 96-hour bargaining-athon with Bouwmeester, will be more Birbraer than Recchi, but wouldn’t it be a cruel blow to the solar plexus for Bouwmeester to spurn the Flames’ advances and for Birkholz to turn into a pretty good player?
Thanks to the Coyotes’ charitable gesture to take Jim Vandermeer’s contract off the Flames’ hands – maybe somebody needs to have a judge look at that decision –Calgary has some loot to toss at Bouwmeester. Now the question is: Do they have the salesmanship to convince Bouwmeester to come here tout de suite?
While you’re pondering that, here , courtesy of veteran hockey scribe, is a horrible thought if you’re a Flames fan – what if (just what if mind you) there’s a sliver of truth to the gossip that Olli Jokinen is a horrible teammate? Wouldn’t ex-Panthers teammate Bouwmeester be fully aware of that and decide to try his luck with one of the other 28 teams? Or at least one of the seven or eight clubs with the cap room and buying impulse to bid for the rearguard’s services?
Fasten your seat belts, boys and girls, it’s going to be a helluva ride.