The topic of trading one or both of Jarome Iginla and Miikka Kiprusoff will grow in stature the closer were get to the trade deadline, but another name that may start popping up in trade rumors is Jay Bouwmeester. The 29-year old defender has had a strong start to the season offensively (for the first time in his tenure here) and is a top-10 defender in terms of even strength ice time per game. During the summer there was talk of trying to move the erstwhile Panther, mainly to get rid of his onerous cap hit, but come April 3 he could be one of the most sought after assets on the trade market.
Why Do It?
My arguments for dealing guys like Iginla and Kiprusoff are principled – although the team could probably retain them beyond their current deals, both guys are past their prime; meaning the perception of their abilities acorss the league likely outstrips their actual value to a team. They are also good bets to continue to decline going forward, perhaps precipitously in the next few years since a vast majority of NHLers eventually fall off a cliff after the age of 35.
As such, I don’t think dealing either guy meaningfully hurts the Flames on the ice.
The reasons to move Bouwmeester are far more pragmatic. He’s 29, soaks up some of the toughest minutes on the team (and in the league) and the Flames don’t have an obvious replacement for him. His removal would leave a huge hole on the Flames back-end and hamper their competiveness. Unfortunately, he’s also nearing the end of his contract and there’s a better than even chance he will choose to sign elsewhere once his time with the team ends.
Bouwmeester now holds the record for the most regular season games ever played by a single player without seeing the playoffs. And unless something drastically changes between now and next season, he won’t be getting there with the Flames organization. His 5 year, $30+ million contract with Calgary was his money deal, so next time Bouwmeester will be primarily motivated by team quality. Term and dollars will take a backseat to playoff aspirations.
If JayBo isn’t asking for too much in the summer of 2014, pretty much every elite squad will line-up to ink him. Unless Calgary has somehow joined their ranks, they won’t even make his short-list.
Of course, this doesn’t mean the Flames necessarily have to deal him this year. In fact, because of the salary cap dropping to about $64M next year and his relatively large, lingering cap hit ($6.68M), moving Bouwmeester at the deadline might be rather complicated versus trading him in the summer or at the next deadlne. That doesn’t have to stop Feaster from quietly making inquiries to get a sense of his market value sooner rather that later though.
Bouwmeester is another of the Flames big fish who should be entering the trade pond, either now or in the near future. The club should trade Iginla and Kiprusoff because they are declining assets, but they will probably have to trade Bouwmeester because he’s going to leave anyways.