What is Lance Bouma Worth?

The Flames last bit of business this summer is to get RFA Lance Bouma under contract. It’s mildly surprising negotiations have dragged in this manner because from the outside it seems like an easy re-up: Bouma’s well liked by the organization for his intangibles, but he doesn’t have much leverage beyond that. He has less than 2 NHL seasons worth of hockey under his belt in the show and his counting stats reflect a player of his, uh,  role (5 goals, 15 points total).

Usually guys of this ilk get a modest raise over their ELC since there isn’t much to argue over. However, given the lack of a deal and the fact it’s the middle of August, let’s take a closer look at Bouma’s results from last year to see what the Flames might have on their hands. 

Underlying Numbers

Although he was spotted higher up the rotation on occasion, Bouma mostly skated on the 3rd and 4th line for Calgary last season. He averaged just over 12 minutes of ice time per game over 78 games, including a team leading (amongst forwards) 2:01 short handed. Unlike tough guys like Kevin Westgarth and Brian McGrattan, who were heavily sheltered by Bob Hartley, Bouma was deployed in an almost exclusively defensive role by the Flames bench boss, with a near team low zone start ratio of 38.8%. Keep in mind he also played nearly 180 minutes at ES with Brian McGrattan. And as much as everyone likes Big Ern, the Flames fighter tends to drag down his regular linemate’s results. For exmaple, Bouma’s corsi rate sunk to 38% with McGrattan and was a more respectable 45.9% away from him.

His deployment in 2013-14 no doubt reflects the sort of utility shut-down player Bouma may become as an NHLer, but it was a bit beyond the 24 year old in his first full season. His corsi ratio ended up at 43.3%, or a -3.4% relative corsi. That’s not terrible given the relative difficulty of his assignment (for context, Sean Monahan’s relative rate was slightly worse in much easier minutes), but it also means Bouma has some ways to go before he’s a legitimately beyond replacement level since he has limited offensive upside.

This reality is reflected in his results on the PK. One of the most predictive stats for PP success over the long term is shot volume (SF/60). As such, the goal on the PK is to suppress shots against as much as possible. Here’s how the Flames four most frequent PK forward did in terms of SA/60 at 4on5 last season:

Player SA TOI SA/60
Bouma 130 156 50.00
Backlund 96 141 40.85
Stajan 117 125 56.16
Stempniak 62 87 42.76

As you can see, Bouma was 3rd out of 4 skaters, edging out Stajan (who struggled quite a bit), but was well back of the dynamic Lee Stempniak and Mikael Backlund**. Again, this certainly isn’t a grave indictment of Bouma given his age and package of skills, but it suggests some improvement if he’s going to drag himself beyond a minimum wage down the line. In order to be considered anything more than a 7 minute/night bang and crasher, Bouma will have to get a bit better at pushing the play and suppressing opposition shots short handed.

**Aside – Backlund was by far the best regular Flames skater on the PK by this measure last year.

So What?

Bouma played in relatively difficult circumstances, got kinda beat up a bit  (though it could have been much worse) and was middling at best on the PK, despite his propensity for blocking shots and hammering bodies. The former Vancouver Giants captain has some things on his side, however: he can skate fairly well, he hits like a freight train and he has better hands than your typical fighter or Mike Brown type agitator. He’s also got a reputation for being likable, coachable and a good dressing room guy which are pretty much required traits of any bottom rotation forward who wants to stick around the league.

Bouma could become an anchor on a utility forward unit that effectively soaks up defensive zone match-ups, freeing up the top of the rotation to take the high ground. On the other hand, he could also plateau and remain a fungible grinder who spends his career bouncing around the league as a 4th line injury plug-in. Beyond giving him some room on account of his pedigree in the organization and decent package of skills, the Flames can’t really be sure which it will be with Bouma quite yet.

Why is this taking so long then?

That’s the question at this point. The parties can’t really be battling too much over money – Bouma’s agent has no real ammunition on that front, aside from maybe blocked shot and PK ice time. I doubt the team is worried about his arbitration rights next year either – Bouma’s not a threat to get a big arb award.

I assume the sticking point is length of contract, though it’s difficult to guess which side is arguing for term. Personally I’d be pressing for a one-way deal at 3+ years if I was Bouma’s agent. A glance at the Flames organizational depth is enough to convince anyone there is going to be a lot of competition for support role roster spots over the next few years. Beyond offensive guys like John Gaudreau, Markus Granlund and Emile Poirier, there is also “two way” players including Corban Knight, Max Rienhart, Bill Arnold, Kenny Agostino and Ben Hanowski who could make a case to usurp Bouma should he get injured or falter. To say nothing of DEL recruit David Wolf, who is also a tough guy with better hands than your average fighter (hopefully). 

As his agent then, I’d be looking for a firm commitment from the team for my client. Particularly since he can’t exactly drive for a big payday and that isn’t likely to change dramatically in the short-term.

That’s mere speculation however.

Conclusion

Bouma’s an interesting player. I like him and think it’s possible he could carve out a niche as a defensive specialist given his frame, attitude and skating ability. That said, he still has a lot to prove at this level and he’s going have to fend off a lot of strong competition for a bottom-6 roster spot over the next couple of years.

I’ve been asked if fans should worry about a lack of a deal for Bouma this late in the off-season. The obvious answer is no: whatever the contentious issues between the player and org, they are unlikely to be dire or drastic. Sometimes these negotiations happen to drag into the dog days of summer and are lengthened by external forces like vacations and a lack of urgency. A lot of Flames kids have been inked in late August, early September over the years to no ill-effect.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    Bouma is easy to like. He never seems to dog it and does a lot of the dirty work as a defensive offenseman. My bet is that Treliving is playing hardball and pushing for a 2-way. If this is true he may see better options coming up the pike.

    • Matty Franchise Jr

      I agree that Bouma is easy to like, both as a player and a personality, attributes that this team has to have in combination. This is a guy that will go through a wall for his teammates, do whatever is necessary to help.

      That said, I agree that a likely stumbling block is whether his contract is one- or two-way. I can see both sides of the argument in that the players camp figures he’s earned an NHL spot and the team seeking more flexibility given the number of young guys in the system.

      With the cap space that the Flames enjoy, I would predict a combination not unlike the Ortio deal is a high probability with the NHL rate being in the $750-$800K range.

      • piscera.infada

        Reading the Herald interview with Treliving today, he said the stumbling block is dollars actually. I thought it would be term, but 1/2-way also makes sense. I was surprised. Makes me wonder what his side’s asking for. It seems like a pretty cut and dry 1 million (give or take) per year.

  • ChinookArchYYC

    I like Bouma and have drawn comparisons to him and Nystrom at this stage in his career. The question I have is he better suited as a 4th line center playing limited minutes and the PK or a winger who brings energy and a physical presence on which ever line he plays(I suggest the later and if so he may have a bit more offense in him). I could see him playing on a number of lines; ie Glenx/Stajan and Bouma would be defensively responsible and create offense or with Johnny,Backs as their physical presence and learning to drive possession on either of these lines his offensive numbers would go up without hurting the other guys numbers.

  • RexLibris

    Given this approximate breakdown of elements:

    65% Oxygen
    18% Carbon
    10% Hydrogen
    3% Nitrogen
    1.5% Calcium
    1% Phosphorous
    0.35% Potassium
    0.25% Sulfur
    0.15% Sodium
    0.15% Chlorine
    0.05% Magnesium
    0.0004% Iron
    0.00004% Iodine

    and then calculating for the exchange rate and inflation, I’d say about $4.85. Make it an even $5.00.

  • Jeff Lebowski

    Given certain tactics that call for lines to be constructed with:

    Possession player + finisher (or ozone producer) a player like Lance fits as a turnover creator by physically closing (take away time and space and punish) on the opposition. Any offense he provides is a bonus.

    Simply put, Lance forces mistakes or quick decisions under pressure by slamming the other team.

    If you have guys that ca capitalize on those mistakes you can create instant offense.

    How much that is worth in ‘nominal’ terms is likely to be small. However it would be great to see a forced error stat or something to that effect. TO are recorded but not how they were elicited.

  • RexLibris

    With regards to Bouma’s contract, I wouldn’t be surprised with a one-year $1 million (and change), one-way deal.

    Give him a slight bump in the actual money paid and make it a one-way deal to reward him (as well as adding some small financial disincentive when it comes to being claimed off waivers), but the term allows you to walk away next summer if Knight, Granlund or Reinhart supplant him by the end of the season.

  • mattyc

    Player /
    Age /
    TOI /
    CorsiRel /
    Penalty Differential (/60) /
    Points/60 /
    SH%
    A/
    ——-26/
    13.22/
    —– 4.9/
    ————– 1.1/
    ——————— 1.1/
    4.00

    B/ ——-24/
    10.30/
    —– -10.3/
    ————– 0/
    ——————— 1.04/
    6.10/

    Player A is TJ Galiardi and Player B is Lance Bouma. Now I like Lance Bouma, but I think Galiardi would have been the superior choice for that bottom line role. Especially given they’ll come in at similar pay scales (Galiardi didn’t even get a one-way contract).

      • mattyc

        I’d like to be a fly on the wall in some of those coaches meetings. It was pretty clear Hartley wasn’t a Galiardi fan, but really liked Bouma. Not sure I really understand it – Galiardi strikes me as the more versatile player and had poopy luck last year putting the puck in.

    • SmellOfVictory

      Galiardi, especially given his cost, was the best option available for the Flames’ 4th line, period. The problem is that the coaching staff didn’t seem to like him much, pucks wouldn’t go in for him, and he took a lot of dumb penalties (related to point #1); add that to the fact that his #GritChart is fairly low, and he didn’t have much of a chance.

      My ideal 4th line for the Flames would’ve been Bouma, Galiardi, and some random 3rd guy.

      • mattyc

        Galiardi drew a lot more penalties than he took (unlike Bouma). For comparison, Dustin Brown (one of the best in the league, drew 0.9 penalties /60 mins more than he took.

  • Michael

    I agree, its likely the length of contract. The Flames have a bunch of guys coming up through the system that can perform at the bottom six forward level. The Flames are likely looking at a shorter term contract for Lance that leaves them some flexibility numbers wise in a few years.

  • redricardo

    No reason not to play hardball at this point if you’re the Flames.

    Bouma is an entirely replaceable 4th line grinder.

    His lack of ability to control the play and anchor’s for linemates resulted in his being in a shooting gallery last year.

    The fact that we all saw him willingly sacrifice to block a ton shots raises him up in our estimation, as fans we feel like he is a solid player because we remember the quality of some of those key blocks.

    But this ignores the quantity of them. When every time the dude is on the ice he’s blocking shots, there’s an issue. He should be able to drive the play somewhat.

    Give him a short term deal at close to league minimum to prove he can get better and become a solid part of this team.

    But at this point he’s entirely replaceable by pretty much anyone, and should just be thrilled to be getting an offer to play in the NHL. Don’t play hardball for dollars at this point.

  • Burnward

    Him and Byron were dynamite together on the PK. Gave his all each night too. That’s nice for Hartley to be able to depend on. He’ll be back.

    2 years @1.25 per.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Do the Flames even need Bouma?

    This year, or in the future?

    The Flames have more NHL forwards than they do roster spots.

    Bouma is a 3rd/4th line guy.

    Hudler, Jones, Glencross, and Raymond are all guaranteed roster spots when healthy. Bollig and McGrattan have the 4th line wing positions set in stone.

    If one of either Johnny or Sven is on the roster, then that leaves one 3rd line wing position up for grabs.

    Backlund, Monahan, and Stajan have the 1C-3C spots locked down.

    That leaves the 4C spot up for grabs.

    Those are the only two available spots on the healthy roster.

    So if you want Bouma in the NHL, you are sitting 6 guys from the list of Johnny, Sven, Colborne, Reinhart, Granlund, Arnold, Knight, and Byron.

    The way I draw up the roster, Bouma would be in Adirondack to start the season.

    • ChinookArchYYC

      I see things the same. CP brought up Ferland which and I was thinking there’s more upside in Arnold, compared to Bouma and they’re the same kind of player. This is also why I think the team might be looking to sign him to a 2 way deal. Ultimately, it gives them more wiggle room to audition several players.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Bouma’s Corsi in 2013-2014 regressed to the mean in relation to other comparable 3rd or 4th liners when compared to his 2012-2013 season. His fenwick was decent, particularly given his QualComp, but his Zone Start ratio marginally skewed his stats lower than the median. Bouma’s TMGF20 also comes into play, because of his HART QoT, controlling for Sh% and Faceoff Adj.

  • The Last Big Bear

    Nothing against Bouma, I like him as a player, and as a hockey guy and Flames fan I wish him all the best.

    But to the Flames he’s probably worth about $125, or whatever the waiver fee is these days.

    Of course his agent is pushing for term and a 1-way. Guys like Bouma are always in danger of being on their last NHL contract.

    But Bollig and Bouma are effectively fighting for the same role. And since the new regime is the one that brought in Bollig, I’d say Lance is likely to be waiting on the farm for Bollig to get suspended or injured.

  • The Last Big Bear

    When Bouma played with Stajan I was often surprised by their creativity offensively, only for the play to be broken up by Bouma losing it, missing the net, or shooting it into the goalie’s chest. I don’t think he has the most talent or has the upside of being a top-6. That being said, I like Bouma and I would take him over McG/Westgarth/Bollig on the fourth line any day.