What To Do With Jay Bouwmeester?



pic via Jeremy Nolais

 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.

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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.

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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.

What Now?

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. 

  • TheRealPoc

    This website does great statistical analysis of where the roster’s at and where they’re going. By making tenuous claims such as “there’s a better than even chance [Bouwmeester] doesn’t return” because “[his next contract] will be primarily motivated by team quality,” you move away from the essence of the site, making implications that you know the personal and professional priorities of players. It’s speculative at best, and possibly wildly inaccurate at worst.

    This is the exact same rhetoric that’s been used for Iginla over the last 3-4 years; “Why doesn’t he leave and give himself a chance at a Cup? He needs to get out of Calgary ASAP.” These assertions are made without ever alluding to the fact that *gasp* there might be other considerations a professional with a young family might have to make. No matter how many cliches these guys spit out in interviews, they are not robots, nor are they all simpletons with exclusively primitive motives.

    I could do without this kind of analysis on an otherwise great site. It’s beneath the standard of quality you’ve established here.

    • Speculation of course, but with a pretty solid basis I’d say. If there was some way to discover Bouwmeester’s preferences I’d investigate, but aside from sitting down with a beer with him and going off the record, that’s not possible.

      It’s entirely possible he loves Calgary and never wants to leave or is totally unmotivated by winning. Given what I’ve seen from players over the years, that strikes me as unlikely.

      Next time I’ll do a Bayesian analysis dealing with strict probabilities instead. Better?

      • Parallex

        No! The reason that hockey is so great is that you can’t break down every single thing into stat lines. Nor should you be expected to not have an opinion based on reasonable assumptions.

        The advanced stat stuff here is great, but if that was all that was on here this site would be pretty dry.

        Personal analysis and differing opinions (though some can’t tolerate it) are what makes this site great.

    • supra steve

      You shouldnt get so offended because people have opinions of who they think should be traded, who should be acquired, how the club would be best run. Most of us just act like armchair GM’s to vent & express a little passion on a site with other equally passionate Flames fans. I respect your opinion that you dont think Flames should trade anyone and think this team is great, good for you. Whatever gets you throw coping with a losing team year after year. As for the players, well if someone offered me a 5 year contract for millions & millions per year & I was told there will be years you will be idolized, be a goat, be traded, be called a bum, and be asked to participate in lots of charity events, but just worry about playing the best hockey you can. I’d say where do I sign!

  • Parallex

    refresh my memory… is the ability to eat part of the $$ a temporary thing or is it an ongoing thing?

    Just curious because if (and that’s a major if) the Flames do end up selling off assets they could make some added value by eating some of the dollars.

      • Colin.S

        I think if we are dealing him to a team like Pitt/NYR/Philly/CHI who are all cap teams, eating 2-3 million of his salary could drastically get us a better return because it keeps them even more competitive to challenge for a cup, that eating of cap helps them keep the rest of their team together, which is a big deal.

        I think it’s best if we wait to the offseason to trade him, much easier for teams to find cap flexibility and to make a HOCKEY deal in the offseason.

        • supra steve

          Not so long ago, the Flames gave up a 2nd rounder to rid themselves of Kotalik and his contract (what? $2-3million, I forget). Not sure if they would be willing to eat millions unless the return was substantial, which I’m sure is what you would be hoping for.

          • Colin.S

            I think that would likely be the return or more, a 2nd(+), which if we are getting rid of Bouwmeester likely means(or at least hope) a rebuild of sorts, so holding on to 2-3 million or so of cap is nothing for the Flames, as well the second(I think a 2nd and a prospect or late pick just for cap hold back) may not have the biggest impact, can be good for moving up in the draft, or other future trading.

            Depending on the team we are trading to, we could probably take back a bad contract as well (In the 3 million range) as well as hold back Bouw’s salary to get an even better return of picks/prospects as well.

      • SmellOfVictory

        I think the main thing is that eating part of his salary might negate any require cap dumps that come back and decrease the value of the trade. Nearly 6.5+ mil AAV is a substantial hit.

  • I think Bouwmeester would be willing to waive his ntc this year.

    The whole not making the playoff thing could cost him a few bills when his contract is up.

    If he gets traded to a playoff team this year, then has a good season with that team the next and makes the playoffs, then the playoffs are no longer an issue for him,

    Bouwmeester becomes an UFA at age 30, just in time for 1 last big contract. My guess is if he doesnt make the playoffs by then, his value will be $1-1.5 million less per year.

    I would think there would be some motivation to get into the playoffs other than just playing a playoff game.

    • Im sure every player has monetary motivations, but JayBo has been in the NHL for 12 years already and has probably grossed north of $40M. His bills are paid, but the time is running out for him to make the post-season and challenge for the cup. There’s no question in my mind that winning will be his overriding concern once he’s done here.

  • RedMan

    So, what you are saying is that trading Iggy and Kipper will detract from our competitiveness only a little… Jbo, a lot more?

    well, as is, we are optimistic to call our team a bubble team… so, what could it hurt to move the first two? Sure, other things seem to muddy the waters, like emotional attachment to Jarome – ya, we all love the guy… but really it’s time we put emotion aside and consider how best to use “assets” to build forward to move the bubble slightly in the Flames favor.

    In Fact, I would have no problem moving Jbo now along with Jarome and Miikka… find a way to get a couple more first round picks to go along with upcoming top 5 pick this year 😉 We will Always love Iginla… Always… but the future moving forward looks much more dim without some legitimate blue chip prospects… it’s time to cash in while there’s still solid value in the vehicle, otherwise, from this point we are just driving it into the ground and will get nothing.

  • RedMan

    JBo to the Aves for Statsny… *Crickets*

    In some ways I think JBo could net a bigger return then Iggy or Kipper at this point. If done right, it could really turn things around for Calgary.

    I’d bet he could net at least a first and a prospect.

  • supra steve

    Same syndrome as with Iggy & Kipper. If management/ownership stupidly thinks this team is a playoff team, how could you trade this guy? Best value is this year, I am praying we lose tonight & get our butts kicked in California. 4 regulation losses in a row seals the sell mode. To me JBO trade is a no brainer, out of all our assets, his return will be the best. A 1st & a very very nice young piece to fit with Sven is the min we can get back & maybe more if we do it this year. He’s too much $$$ for a team that really isnt going anywhere.

    I wish, Iggy would go to Edwards & say, look, this place is starting to look like a circus, I want to win a cup but I dont want to be the bad guy. I will pick a few teams & I will agree to a new extension with that new team in order to maximize your return but the Flames need to take the heat and tell the fans it was the Flames that requested he waive his NTC so we can go for a quick rebuild/retool. That way he’s loyal to Edwards & Flames fans & also loyal to the new team giving up lots of assets for him. He comes accross as being that type. I hope he is anyway.

    • supra steve

      “I am praying we lose tonight & get our butts kicked in California”

      Oh-oh Parallex, another “bad fan” (by your definition). Get out your branding iron so the Flames will know just who they are admitting (or perhaps turning away), when Kevin R tries to enter the Dome.

      BAD FAN…BAD!


      In case I haven’t been clear, better keep that “bad fan” iron on the hot coals for me as well.

      • Hey man, they made me a bad fan! 3 years of hype and mental anguish. Well, if its any consolation, I hope they lose playing well:)

        Seriously, if Iggy, Kipper & JBO all walk away in the next 14 months without a shred of an asset back because “we think our team is close”
        Well lets just say you havent seen anything to my dark side yet. I may just pledge my allegiance to the Canucks and walk the streets of Calgary like the walkers on Walking Dead.

      • Parallex

        Shrug… you asked the question, don’t blame me if you didn’t like hearing the answer.

        And the Flames don’t rightly care whether you like the team or don’t, whether you want them to win, or want them to lose when you show up at the dome. Your (or his or mine as the case maybe) money all looks the same. If he shows up at the Dome then he’s a good consumer… doing harm to your cause actually, because so long as the team remains financially solvent it makes no sense to change their business plan.

        If you really want the Flames to change direction, by which it’s pretty clear you mean a “burn it to the ground, collect the insurance” approach, then rooting for loses is irrelevant (as is rooting for wins) the only attitude that is relevant is indifference. Any other attitude leads to consumption of the product, leads to profitability leads to furtherance of the business plan.

        • Parallex

          That’s true. It would sure be nice to have an owner who cared more about winning than the furtherance of a business plan though, wouldn’t it?

          Which, of course, won’t happen anytime soon. One point you fail to note, however, is that anger and hoping your own team burns it down and starts over is a precursor to indifference.
          With enough time and still no real change, that will happen. I say best to listen now, but then I’m not billionaire oilman who runs the team, so as you say, who cares what I or any fan thinks. A great attitude for sure.

          • Parallex

            In theory the two (winning and making money)should be corralated. Honestly, an NHL team is a business and I’d prefer it to be run as such. Sure having a billionaire owner who treats the team like a plaything is occasionally fun but it’s hardly a long term recipe for success.

            “With enough time and still no real change, that will happen.”

            If it happens it happens. Frankly, I’d rather have people who radically change their business practices a bit too late then too early. Haste makes waste and all that jazz. Of course you’d want someone with 20/20 vision on that but if such is not possible I’ll take the lesser evil. I’m not altogether convinced that indifference would ever really occur actually… the Oilers have sucked for a really long time, they’ve sucked old, they’ve sucked young, no matter what they just continue to lose and their fans just keep on forking over the money. Leaf fans have 1967 reasons to be indifferent but they fork over more money then anyone. Not sure Calgary would be any different.

            Frankly what I’d like would be if they hired a COO (Which in the sports world is basically what a general manager is) that has a business background (specifically a background in economics). Someone who’d pick up a copy of “Freakonomics”, “Moneyball”, and “The Extra 2%” and consider it informative. Rather then a “hockey guy” or Lawyer.

            I wasn’t a fan of hiring Feaster. Although he’s exceeded expectations thus far as far as I’m concerned (he benefits from low expectations). And Darryl killed his own creation with a thousand cuts.

  • Colin.S

    My question is with the cap/salary thing. Are you eating cap or just salary? Pretty massive difference between the two. Most teams don’t really care about the salary but the cap hit that comes with a guy like JBo. Likewise for kipper he’s only making 1.5mill next year but cap hit over 5. So makes a big difference

  • Colin.S

    I think that the premise of trading Bouwmeester is okay, but its a matter of timing.

    My thoughts are that trading him over the summer (even at the draft) or next season might have more merit. Lets assume that Feaster can move both Iginla and Kiprusoff ahead of this years trade deadline. The return, cumulatively, would, in my expectations, likely net the Flames two prospects, one first and a second rounder in 2013.

    If, as we have been told, the 2013 draft is as deep as prognosticated, then the value of JBo for a possible move in Round 1 (if there is a draft player available that the Flames covet) might be a good bargaining chip to have at hand.

  • Brick

    Isn’t it up to JBo whether he is traded or not?

    He does have a no trade clause and might want to test the market when he becomes a free agent.

    Calgary traded for his rights last time and were able to sign him but that doesn’t mean that will happen this time.

    • That’s true. In general NTC’s have rarely been a roadblock to trading a player, outside of the odd situation where a guy refuses a deal to Edmonton.

      Still, as you say, Bouwmeester can still if he so chooses until the day his deal expires.

  • Brick

    I guess I am okay with JBO leaving, but I think it is a bit of a shame after being stifled by Sutter and he is now showing signs of returning to form as an offensive D man. I think he is on pace to tie his best Florida season point wise this year (prorated to a full season), and as a defender he is really entering the meat of his career. Given his non-physical style and skating ability he is likely to be one of the guys who have a really long career too.

    I also think Kipper and Iggy are reaching their best before date and are urgent issues to address, JBO on the other hand has many productive years ahead. If there is a great deal now, okay maybe, but dumping him is far from urgent. Also, I think given his misuse/ stifling under the previous regime he has gotten a raw deal. He is not especially charismatic or vocal, but he would leave a huge hole in our D. If there is a feeling within the organization that he would sign on again, that would be preferable to losing him unless the return was fantastic.

  • supra steve

    JBo is definately our biggest trade asset, I agree with Kent that he’s likely to leave come the end of his contract and looking at this team objectively, moving Jbo is exactly what should happen.

    As for the timing? Yeah, teams can sort out the books better in the summer, but they’re more willing to part large at the deadline. It can be a toss-up based on what each teams’ individual salary concerns look like going forward, but I generally think that if a team can fit the salary in now than they can worry about next year later. As far as that maybe putting teams out of the running, Calgary can always take some short-term salary back.

  • Kent,
    Usual good article. The only piece you have not contemplated is a potential desire to stay in the area. Local boy marries local wife…

    See Curtis Glencross. I found this was widely over-looked by the media when Glencross re-signed as well. At what is one of the best contracts the Flames have signed in years!

    • True. Curtis and JayBo are also native Albertans, so there’s that as well.

      If he wants to stay at the end of the day then I hope the team tries to find a way to sign him, albeit at a better rate than what they got him for the first time.

      • supra steve

        Could they pay JBo less then Wideman? I think you would have to give him at least the same cap hit ($5.25mil). Guess if he keeps puting up points he may stay at Steve Austin money ($6mil+). Thoughts?

        • I’m guessing a reduced salary cap will have a bit of a deflationary pressure on players salaries in the near term.

          They should be able to get him for less than Wideman, particularly if he is motivated to stay for personal reasons. Defenseman scoring is expensive and one of the reasons JayBo was a $6M+ signing last time was 3 straight years of 15+ goals and 40 or so points with FLA. He was also still very young.

          This time he’s a 30+ year old guy with 25 or so point seasons under his belt.

          Of course, ultimately what drives player prices is demand in the UFA market. We can assume, if he is staying, that he won’t be entering the feeding frenzy though.

  • Scary Gary

    IMO, I like JBo right where he is. If you want to see how fundamentally bad this team actually is then trade Jay. We do articles about how the team fairs with Backlund and without, we haven’t been able to do the same thing with JBo because the guys an iron man. Yeah he was over-rated potentially with his last contract but I think he’s under-rated now and being free of Sutter as a coach has definitely helped. No he hasn’t made the playoffs since his stint in the AHL but really is that his fault or bad luck? He played for a fairly brutal Florida team for years, then was sold on a re-tool Calgary philosophy right after the league dynamics had changed, leaving the flames grinder mentality in 2004.

    I would actually resign him next year if I could and if that didn’t work out then trade him. The quality of hockey could get pretty bad here in a year or two, we need studs like JBo to soak up the minutes.

    • Scary Gary

      I’ve defended JBo on here numerous times and well before it was fashionable (see B. Sutter tenure). All of the fans who were touting Chris Butler so highly a season ago seem to have gone away. JBo is very, very good at playing D.

      That said, it’s about philosophy. When I wanted Iginla traded immediately after his last 50 goal season it was because he was by far the most valuable asset to use to restructure the team. That’s no longer true. Now it’s JBo. So, if you’re in the rebuild camp, you have to go for it. If not, agreed, suicide.

  • Parallex

    The numbers Bouw’s putting up this season and the way he’s playing suggests to me he’s not taking a paycut with the contract he signs at age 30: a UFA #1 D who I think is back at the 40-point rate and is now waaay better defensively than he was 4 1/2 seasons ago makes better than $7 million a year for 5 years if he really wants it.

  • RKD

    Jay-Bo’s play so far is the best we have seen, I think his play really suffered under Brent’s system.

    He would be a valuable asset to any team, and the return for him would be pretty good. More and more, we are hearing guys like Giordano, Stempniak, and Glencross as more likely to be traded than guys like Kipper and Iggy.

    Look at the return that CBJ got for Nash, it was worse than what Philly got for Richards and Carter.
    Pit. is pretty interested in Iggy.

    The Flames would need to get a top 3 forward, preferably young if not then a #1 pick. Something to get elite talent amongst the forward ranks.

  • loudogYYC

    I wouldn’t underestimate the power of greed. As much as JBo could be happy with just a nice salary, his agent makes a living by getting more and more for him.

    I agree that the Hartley system favors him way more and the proof is in how much better he looks on the ice and on the stats sheet. If I were Feaster, I would dangle him at the draft.