If there was one controversial moment from the 2015 offseason, it was Lance Bouma’s re-signing. The Flames forwent the arbitrator’s settlement, giving Bouma $2.2M (far from their initial $1.5M offer) and an extra year on his contract.
Some thought it was a steal. Bouma had just finished his second full NHL season, and had been a key player throughout. In addition to his take-no-prisoners, fearless style of play, he found his scoring touch, scoring 16 goals and adding 18 assists for a decent 34 points. Bouma was an example of a core depth player that could solidify the Flames’ roster
Others thought it was a huge mistake. The advanced stats suggested that his scoring was mainly influenced by those he played with, and that he was due to drop back under 20 points soon. At the rate and term of his new contract, and the predicted bad performances, he would soon become hard-to-move deadweight.
Did 2015-16’s performance prove who was right? Let’s find out after the jump
Bouma’s 2015-16 season is probably best summarized by his injury report. His season started in the worst way possible, having suffering a broken fibula right away in the third game. He did not reappear until Dec. 22 against the Jets. Three weeks later, he suffered a bad cut on his leg against the Sharks and returned 12 days later against the Hurricanes. His final injury, an oblique strain, held him out for the last two games of the season. Not included in these numbers are the countless times he ended a shift early or was held out for significant minutes due to some minor in-game injury.
All in all, Bouma missed 36 total games with injuries, only playing in 44 (two healthy scratches): his lowest since becoming a regular member of the Flames. This certainly took its toll. At times, he looked way behind his teammates, never seeming to be on the same page as others. During some games, he looked like he was either recovering or playing through an injury.
But we all must admit that regardless of injuries, Bouma certainly wasn’t last year’s Bouma. No matter which line he was on, Bouma couldn’t find the scoresheet at all, only potting two goals all season (one of which was an empty netter) and seven total points. He was invisible on most nights, instead of the ever-present force he built himself up to be the previous two seasons.
To a point, the injuries should’ve been expected. Bouma’s physical crash-and-bang style of play lends itself to injury. Not helping the fact is that he has a long rap sheet of minor injuries (and two major ones), which can compound and cause injury more easily. Bouma nearly got away from missing significant time the past two years (only big miss was an UBI and a broken finger during the playoffs). This year, he wasn’t so lucky.
The declining performance should as well have been expected. With Michael Frolik on the right and Sam Bennett on the left, Bouma wasn’t going to be with Backlund anymore and rather with lower quality teammates. He also wasn’t going to shoot 16% at even strength again, either; that should’ve been obvious.
Bouma’s HERO chart over the last three years is pretty telling of the player he is, and the player he most likely will be. Outside of the heart and grit this team apparently needs, his useful contributions are pretty limited. He doesn’t drive offence, nor does he suppress the opponents’. His points production is wildly inflated from the one good season he had, and those numbers should soon fall back to the fourth liner cutoff. At 26, he’s not likely to grow anymore. We’ve seen enough of Lance Bouma to know he what he is.
Impact on team
Here’s the Flames’ usage chart (400 min played) from war-on-ice.com. Basically, down and to the left is mostly concerning, up and to the right is mostly positive. Red is bad, blue is good.
Bouma sits a bit below centre on this chart. Considering the names he is close to, this is bad. Among forwards, he had the seventh lightest zone starts and the third easiest competition, but ended up fourth worst in corsi rel. This is not good at all.
Here’s his WOWY chart, from corsica.hockey.
Bouma’s on-ice influence is very concerning. No one except Backlund (which I sense is more Backlund’s doing rather than Bouma’s) benefits with him on the ice, and he is mostly helpless without these players. Even considering that he has a ~50CF% together with some players, the gap between Bouma and the player apart negates him as a viable regular option. He’s a passenger, not a driver.
What comes next?
Bouma’s status with the Flames could not be as stable as it was last off-season. Coming off of such a poor year, there may be a possibility of a trade. As unpopular as it may be, if there are still suitors in the summertime, perhaps it is best if the Flames move on. There’s an impending cap crunch, and they need all the space they can get.
If he is not moved, we are likely going to see another season filled with disappointment. He’s a fourth liner and the play always finds a way into Calgary’s end when he’s on the ice. With three full NHL seasons under his belt, we’ve seen the type of player Bouma is. It’s not likely to get any better than 2014-15.