File this under "disconcerting" -TSN’s Darren Dreger reported today the Flames may be shopping Mikael Backlund and Jay Bouwmeester. Here’s the pertinent passage:
The Calgary Flames have a new coaching staff and a willingness to consider all trade scenarios not including Jarome Iginla or Miikka Kiprusoff.
Like most teams, the Flames are looking for a Top 6 forward – ideally, a centre. Mikael Backlund and Jay Bouwmeester are among those the Flames would trade. But with two years remaining at a whopping $6.7 million per season, Bouwmeester is going to be a tough sell.
From where I stand, a willingness to trade anyone but Iginla and Kipper is eactly the opposite stance the club should be taking heading into this off-season, particularly bodies like Jay Bouwmeester and Mikael Backlund. While both guys had rather disappointing seasons last year, there are number of reasons moving them doesn’t make a lot of sense for the club.
In JayBo’s case, he almost singlehandedly handles the hard minutes for the Flames on the back-end. So unless Calgary is planning on landing Suter as a free agent this summer, deleting Bouwmeester from the blueline would create a huge hole that could not be filled internally. On top of all that, he’s not even 30 years old yet so likely has a number of effective years left in him.
It’s common to assert that a Kipper or Iginla trade would signal the begin of a true rebuild,however, I contend moving Bouwmeester for a forward or futures would be a pretty sure step in that direction. He’s overpaid and underwhelming offensively to be sure, but is a few miles ahead of other Flames defensive options.
As for Backlund, trading him would delete the lone NHL-ready skater Calgary has in the important 23-28 age range up front (who isn’t merely a capable AHLer or bottom-six forward for life). In addition, given his poor shooting luck and rotten counting numbers from last season, dealing Backs now would be a classic case of selling low on an asset that is bound to improve in value. Whats more, Backlund should be pretty cheap to re-sign this summer, so he doesn’t have the added baggage of a bad contract like JayBo.
Of course, I don’t really consider anyone on the Flames roster to be sacrosanct, so if Feaster manages to turn a Backlund or Bouwmeester into a real improvement, more poweer to him. That said, the fact that the team has potentially under valued 20-somethings on the block instead of their doddering (but marketable) core players (assuming Darren Dreger is right) is not terribly encouraging.