Lance Bouma has not had a good season. With expectations higher thanks to a career season and brand new $2.2 million cap hit, he would have to put together a really good campaign to meet them–
And then he got injured three games into the season and was kept out of the lineup until Christmastime. Eight games into his return to the lineup, he got hurt once again, and missed another two weeks before coming back.
But Bouma has been healthy since then. He’s only played fourth line minutes, but at least he’s been around to play them.
That came to an end last night, as Bouma missed the end of the Flames’ penultimate home game. Now, with just two games left, he’s officially done for the season.
Lance Bouma suffered a pulled oblique in last night’s game and will miss the final two games. Tough season for #Flames No. 17.
— Derek Wills (@Fan960Wills) April 6, 2016
Coincidentally, Bouma was injured in last season’s game 80 as well, thanks to a blocked shot – but he was able to return to the lineup in the playoffs. That’s obviously not an option this year.
Through just 44 games this season, Bouma scored two goals and seven points total: a 13 point pace over a full 82 games. He averaged 12:02 in ice time, the lowest he’s played since his rookie season. It was, in short, a pretty awful year for the 26 year old.
Bouma is still under contract for another two seasons, so hopefully he can take this off-season to get himself healthy. His all-heart style of play does lend itself to potentially more injuries, but what he suffered this season were more freak accidents than anything else, an odd hit by Ryan Reaves being the main offender.
He may not be able to meet the expectations his career season previously set up for him, but he should be able to have a better year than this.
What comes next?
With just two games left this season, and neither having any real meaning to them aside from pride (and draft lottery odds), Bouma’s absence won’t be felt in the lineup.
His season ending just a little early does have a couple of other implications, though. Most notably: Hunter Shinkaruk will almost certainly be playing in the Flames’ final two games of the season. Shinkaruk is up on emergency recall, but with Bouma out, the Flames are down to 11 forwards.
Considering Shinkaruk’s brief time in the NHL so far – two goals, one assist, getting to play with Johnny Gaudreau and Sean Monahan, averaging 16:14 in ice time and playing on the power play – there’s absolutely no reason he shouldn’t play these final two games of the season. And now, there’s absolutely no reason for the Flames to demote him.
Depending on Michael Frolik’s injury status, another kid from Stockton could be coming up, as well. If Frolik is still unable to play – and honestly, with two games left, why not let him heal up properly – then the Flames are stuck at 11 forwards, and that’s grounds for an emergency recall.
They could bring up somebody who’s already played for the Flames this season – Kenny Agostino, Freddie Hamilton, Emile Poirier, Garnet Hathaway – or they could bring up somebody new. Drew Shore and Bill Arnold could both be candidates, although a winger might better serve the Flames’ interests; it also so happens that Turner Elson, currently fifth in Heat scoring, has never played an NHL game (and even looks to be a Bouma-type of player).