What Is Lance Bouma Worth?

With Mark Cundari and Joe Colborne signed last week, forward Lance Bouma is Calgary’s last remaining off-season loose end. The 24-year-old forward is a restricted free agent, and arguably of all of Calgary’s RFAs has the best case for a raise based on how well he played last season.

In the interest of shining a light on why #17 hasn’t yet re-signed, here’s a brief look at what the Calgary Flames, and what Bouma’s representatives, probably think he’s worth.

Lance Bouma had a three-year entry-level deal that saw him have an annual NHL average salary of $563,333 – a smidge above NHL minimum wage. He played 43 games in Calgary in the first two seasons, putting up four points in an energy role and generally looking like a player that could take Tom Kostopoulos’ bottom-six role on the left-side. (He also played 92 games in Abbotsford, earning 26 points). Bouma seemed poised to earn a full-time NHL job…and then the lock-out happened. And then his knee exploded, resulting in surgery on two different ligaments, a lot of rehab and just three AHL games played. He was given a one-year, two-way deal worth $577,500 at the NHL level, and the hope was that he would work his way back to what he was prior to his knee injury.

But Bouma worked his tail off in rehab and, despite the fact that you could forgive him for being tentative given his injury history, he played with the same reckless abandon for the Flames last season that he did prior to his injury. In fact, you could argue that Bouma was even better than he was prior to the injury, something that could be explained by the fact that he basically lived in Calgary’s video room throughout last season.

Bouma had 15 points in 78 games for the Flames, but he was second among all NHL forwards in blocked shots and was tied with Matt Stajan among all Flames forwards in per-game penalty-kill ice-time. In short, Bouma carved out a very effective little niche for himself, moving up from fourth line duty with Brian McGrattan and a rotating cast of characters to spending time on a regular basis with Matt Stajan on whichever line Stajan was on at the time. Prior to some injury problems for the right-winger, Bob Hartley threw Bouma on a line with Stajan and David Jones that was pretty effective.

So what is a defensively-sound, physical forward that can play all three positions and eat up time on the penalty kill worth?


If I’m the Flames, I’m focusing on age and experience comparables – players 23 to 26 who are just out of their entry-level years. The idea isn’t so much to downplay Bouma’s abilities, but to make sure his compensation falls within the internal salary structure – as in, if the Flames are gonna be a good team, they need to pay Bouma comparable to how good teams pay players of his abilities and experience.

121 19 TBA
Josefson (NJ) 118 25 $800,000
Rinaldo (Phi) 165 18 $750,000
Frattin (Tor) 126 35 $800,000
Sestito (Van) 134 17 $750,000
Tangradi (Wpg) 136 15 $675,000
Lander (Edm) 94 8 $600,000

Most of these guys are young, completely useful role players, but none of ’em are well-known for their scoring touch. Based upon this grouping, you’d expect the Flames to offer Bouma around $800,000 or so.

The big reason? Look at the salary structure of good teams like Chicago and Los Angeles: you have a handful of players making top money (between $6 and $10 million if you’re Chicago), then a lesser group in the middle-range, and then role players making south of $1.5 million. That means that if Bouma’s “only” going to be a role player – and you need role players to win – he’ll top out at $1.5 million per year.

The Flames are not a good team yet, but you can’t begrudge them for trying to institute a similar internal salary structure so when everyone gets slotted into their respective roles, their compensation is logical and comparable across the club.


I brought up Brandon Bollig’s deal before, and it’s still probably unfair because the Flames didn’t sign that deal, but it’s there. So now you have Brandon Bollig making $1.25 million and Joe Colborne making $1.275 million.

The Colborne comparison is probably the important one, since both he and Bouma played their first full season in the NHL last year and were used differently. Colborne averaged 12:35 in even-strength TOI, 1:24 in power-play TOI and 0:15 in short-handed TOI. He had 28 points in 80 games and outside of a few games early in his tenure as a center, he was protected a lot and got good ice-time with some strong line-mates like Jiri Hudler and Sean Monahan. He did emerge as a shootout specialist and was pretty reliable for goals now and then.

Bouma? 10:21 at even-strength (a bit less), 0:13 on the PP (also less) and 2:01 short-handed, which is a lot more. He scored less than Colborne, putting up 15 points in 78 games, but he was also used more in defensive deployments and to eat up tougher minutes (with usually lesser line-mates). The short-handed thing is actually key here, as he was tied with Matt Stajan for average ice-time among forwards on the PK, and was basically out on-average for one of every three minutes on the PK. He also was second in the entire NHL among forwards in shot-blocking.

In other words, Bouma’s a role player, but he’s a useful and important role player – one of the club’s best penalty-killers and their key forward shot-blocker. And you could argue he’s (at times) as crucial to Calgary’s success as Colborne is, so he should be making close to Colborne money.

Team Bouma is probably looking at team-specific role players (e.g., guys as important to their teams as he is) when looking at comparables. I’d look at Matt Beleskey ($1.4 million), Matt Calvert ($1.125 million), Kyle Clifford ($1.2 million), Dale Wiese ($1.025 milllion) and Matt Martin ($1.1 million) as comparables on this basis.


The fact that Bouma hasn’t signed yet is probably just a reflection that there’s a bit of disagreement between his camp and the Flames regarding what he’s worth. He’s probably worth between $750,000 and $1.1 million, depending on how important you think shot-blocking is and how important you think goals and points are, and whether his representation can convince Calgary’s management that one pretty good year is representative of what Bouma will be going forward.

My guess is he signs a one or two-year bridge deal worth $850,000 or so a year. It hedges bets for both sides, and potentially gives Bouma a chance to show he can score more and make some big bucks next time.

        • They can view things however they want, but the bottom line is that they also let Selanne’s original team slip away from them and move to Phoenix in the first place. Don’t get me wrong I was pumped when they got a new team, and TBQH I was just crackin’ wise when I said that anyway.

          Though to me it’s like when you see people at Minnesota Wild games wearing North Stars jerseys (especially when Dallas is in town). I have a tough time getting my head around that one.

          • supra steve

            I lived through, and remember that time very well. The people of Calgary (and Edmonton) were not all that far away from losing their teams too. If they had, I think a lot of us would still be wearing the flaming C with pride, there’s nothing weird in that.

  • piscera.infada

    Prospects by position:

    It will only take one injury to a Dman and Wotherspoon only needs to outplay one Dman. I say He gets a chance this year and runs with it. The other guys could all play some games but are any of them really NHL ready? We may find out this year.

    CENTER/WING (assuming Johnny is not a prospect)
    This one is tough and for obvious reasons I combined the two positions… I could see granlund, knight, reinhart, and Arnold all logging some minutes. Even Poirier or Agostino may get some looks. Really a crapshoot. We are deep at center but we have some versatile Centers that can play the wing.

    I’ll pick three from here:

    1. Reinhart gets a spot on the fourth line to start the season but gets moved up when injuries strike the top 9. He will moved around and tried at all forward positions. He gets a one way contract.

    2. Knight gets called up when needed for additional Center depth. He excels as 4th C and shows some promise as a future 3rd C. H nets a one way contract.

    3. David Wolf. Mostly because his name is David Wolf. And because past Bollig and Bouma we don’t have much of this style on our roster. I don’t foresee Mcgrit playing very many games.

    Ortio may get called up in case of injury. Hell who knows – we have flexilibity so he may get called up and rewarded with a few games. But I don’t see him making the team.

    Sven – not sure what to say here. Reinhart, Knight and Granlund all seem to be higher on the depth chart. If Sven really brings his game he has the skill to make the team out of camp. – But take a look at Reinhart: He has great numbers in the A and if he plays in the NHL this year he is likely a bottom six guy. Do you play Sven in the bottom six or do you play him on the first line in Glen Falls? Given we only have three right handed shots on the team I think there is a spot there for Sven at right wing. But I can also see him being traded if there is a big deal down the line with a team in need of a top prospect. This would probably be a move we would make for an established player.

    Granlund – Will play some games but will be largely seasoned for another year in the A. Unless injuries happen.

    In summary, 4 prospects make the team: WSpoon, Rienhart, Knight, Wolf. 5 if you count Gaudreau. Sven either lands a top 6 job or is traded. Ortio, Granlund and some of our younger players continue to develop.

    It may make more sense to move one of our center prospects but Sven has a higher value I think. He is a guy who will be interesting to watch.

  • everton fc

    Wolf-Bouma-Van Brabant. I’d like to see this line. Not sure who plays left/right wing. Just off the top of my head.

    I know we also have Bollig… Who will play on the 4th line.