Lance Bouma is another personal favourite of mine, if only because he seems hell-bent on doing whatever he can do to help the Calgary Flames win games.
He’s not what you would traditionally define as a franchise player, but you could argue that his intangibles – his willingness to sacrifice his body for his team, and his knack for clutch goals – make up for his lack of talent. And thank goodness, because his underlying numbers are not particularly good.
For your perusal, everyone that played more than 100 even-strength minutes with Lance Bouma:
Literally every single player that played a good chunk of time with Lance Bouma ended up worse-off, possession-wise, with him than without him. He’s a boat anchor.
Lance Bouma, possession boat anchor.
But hey, there are two graphics that tell the tale of the 2014-15 season for Lance Bouma:
Okay, he got an absolute TON of hard minutes. He got a lot of defensive zone starts, and he played a pretty good chunk of time against second line players (and eventually first line players later on in the season, once Curtis Glencross departed).
And as we all will remember this season as the year of Lance Bouma, Top-Six Forward, remember this:
This is the time-on-ice of his competition all season. If I put up the same graphic with his teammates, it’d be about the same. He was a fourth liner early-on playing with fourth liners against depth players, and his possession numbers suffered. And then he got thrown up the depth charts, and played with good players…against really good players from the other team. And his zone starts were pretty consistent all season in terms of him spending lots of time in the defensive zone.
So while his underlying numbers aren’t good at all, bear in mind that he played with two of the following all season: (a) tough minutes, (b) lots of defensive zone starts, and (c) with Calgary’s depth players. So it’s not entirely Bouma being Bouma, but recall that Kris Russell’s become known for shot blocking as well, and his underlyings weren’t all that hot either.
Bouma is a difference-maker, but he has to be used the right way to avoid dragging down his teammates’ underlyings. Recall the superb Bouma-Backlund-Jones line from late in the season to get an idea of how Bob Hartley can use Bouma and have him be quite effective.