Back when Lance Bouma finished his junior career, I compared him to former Flame Brandon Prust.
The pair had an eerily similar junior path. Both guys were known more for their grit and defensive acumen than scoring. In fact, their point-per-game and PIM rates were similar, although Bouma scored a bit more and Prust was more willing to drop the gloves.
A few years out and I think the comparison still holds. Like Prust, Bouma has seen some time with the parent club a few seasons into his pro career despite scoring at a nominal rate in the AHL. Perhaps the main difference between the two is Bouma won’t be expected to fill a pugilist role, whereas Prust boasted 200+ PIM seasons in the Flames farm system and was groomed as fighter as much as anything else. He has settled into more of a "checker who is willing to drop the gloves" kind of thing in New York, but Bouma (and his 50PIMs) will likely be more a straight-up grinder in the big league.
With 26 points in 92 career AHL games, it’s clear Bouma is never going to win any scoring titles. His NHL ceiling tops out at, say, Prust or Travis Moen – as a guy who can muck along the boards penalty kill and suppress other players scoring to some degree.
|Player||Kent||Justin||WI||Scott||VF||Arik (not counted)|
*Reminder – The evaluators were asked to rank players, and we sorted the rankings via a simple point scale-number 15 on each list got one point, while number 1 on each list got 15. The criteria for who was included was pretty simple: players the Flames control who are 23 and under (excluding Mikael Backlund, since he’s already a bona fide NHLer).
Bouma made our top-10 list despite limited upside for a couple of reasons:
1.) He is a lot closer to NHL-ready than many of other the kid. That has something to do with his expected role and limitd expectations, but some weight has to be given to the fact he’s a step or two away from being an everyday NHLer.
2.) VF ranked him fourth (!). I’m sure he will defend that decision in the comments.
Unlike many of the other hopefuls on this list, Bouma has spent some time with the Flames so we have some NHL results we can look over. In 27 games with Calgary last year, Bouma scored one goal and three points, averaging about 10 minutes of ice time per night.
Brent Sutter’s usage hinted at Bouma’s future in the league. The kid didn’t see many offensive zone draws (43.5% zone start) and garnered just over 13 minutes of PK ice time. At times, it was clear Bouma is still learning the ropes, although he also flashed the strong skating and tenacity that suggests he will be a capable bottom-six/checking forward in the league some day.
His possession rate says there is still some work to be done, however. Although he faced mostly other fourth liners, Bouma ended up well under water in terms of driving the play forward (-13.53 corsi/60). He will likley continue his apprenticeship this year at both the AHL and NHL levels before, like Prust, ultimately making the leap for good around the age of 24 or so.
|Player||Kent||Justin||WI||Scott||VF||Arik (NC)||Final Rank|