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Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

Lance Bouma’s contract may come back to haunt Brad Treliving

Troy Brouwer’s contract is not good. We know it. You know. There’s a very good chance that after one season, even the Calgary Flames know it. But through three seasons of Brad Treliving’s management, Brouwer’s deal isn’t the biggest issue on the club heading into a busy summer.

It’s actually Lance Bouma’s three-year deal worth $2.2 million per season that’s the worst deal on the team for a handful of reasons.

It’s too expensive

In a cap world, teams need to have a logical structure to their team both in terms of the roles that players play and the cap structure of the team. On most teams, players that make a lot of money play on the top two lines, occasionally top three, or the top two defensive pairings. The remainder of the rosters are usually inexpensive role players.

Bouma? He’s been consistently in the bottom six during the first two seasons of his deal, and he’s even been a fairly regular healthy scratch.

It was based on bounces

Remember Bouma’s contract year in 2014-15? As a pending restricted free agent, everything went in for him. He had 16 goals and 34 points. His personal shooting percentage? 15.4%. The two seasons before that? 3.8% and 6.1%. After? 4.1% and 5.7%. From that standpoint, it’s an obvious outlier.

His on-ice shooting percentage (the percentage of all shots by anybody on the Flames that went in when he was on the ice) that year? 10.8%. The rest of his career wobbled between 6.5% and 8.3%. Again, that season was an outlier. Everything (relatively) went in for him whenever he was on the ice. It wasn’t likely to happen again. So far, it hasn’t.

It’s too long

Let’s give Bouma and the Flames the benefit of the doubt. Two years ago, Bouma was a 25-year-old bottom sixer. Generally speaking, players don’t catapult from the fourth line to the top six at that age, but it does happen from time to time. Also generally speaking, big spikes of production in contract years for restricted free agents are usually followed by “show me” contracts – short-term deals that allow a team to hedge their bets and allow a player to build a bigger sample size of strong play on which to base a contract ask.

Instead, the Flames gave Bouma a three-year deal based off of one good season. It probably allowed them to avoid arbitration, but it’s a big drag on their payroll for a long while.

It sets an awful precedent

Here’s the worst part: having Bouma on the books allows basically every good bottom sixer to point at the deal and say “I want that, too.”

Sam Bennett, Kris Versteeg, Alex Chiasson and Micheal Ferland all require new contracts this summer. All have higher levels of cumulative career production than Bouma did at the time he was rewarded with his shiny new deal. All have scored more than Bouma in recent years. Heck, Versteeg even out-scored Bouma’s percentage-driven contract year. If I’m one of their agents, I point out the similarities, demand the Bouma deal and then sit and wait.

Bouma’s contract is too expensive and too long. And because it’s still on the books, it gives pending free agents a very simple internal market value for bottom sixers through a deal signed by the current general manager. In other words: it’s likely to become even more expensive for the Flames before it finally expires next summer.

  • Kevin R

    Ryan, your being a little too dramatic on this one. Yeah Bouma didn’t live up to the contract. Wont be the first player not to live up to a contract in NHL & won’t be the last. 1 year left, just like Stajan’s 1 year left for way too much money for a 4th liner as well. Even if they buy it out, we carry a $725K cap hit for the next 2 years, or he just gets Bollig AHL ticket. Or, he may be an offsetting cap piece in a trade for a goalie like Crawford or Fleury. Don’t see any scary ghosts on that contract. Now Brouwer’s………………… well he may have to do a side deal with Vegas or pray that Brouwer comes back next year & gives us the 20 goals & be the gritty top 9 forward we thought we were getting.

  • flamesburn89

    Yup, it was a bad move by BT. Not a big deal, but still a bad one. Lots of people around these parts thought it was a nice win for the Flames, but the proof really has been in the pudding on this one.

  • Brodano12

    Byron – bad move

    Bouma – bad signing

    Brouwer – bad signing

    Bollig – bad trade

    Other than Brodie’s contract extension, it seems Brad always makes bad decisions with B-named players. Huge contrast to his success with M-named players.

  • Lets Get Something Clear

    This article is a bit alarmist. Even if Bouma weren’t on the team, there would still be a plethora of bad contracts that agents could point to around the league as comparables.

  • BlueMoonNigel

    Hey. Moderator, why is there no tribute page yet to one of the all-time Flames’ greats Sasha the Masha? He played on a bloody bad team, so on many sports nights it was Sasha who the lone bright spot and the only reason to watch Flames’ games. Sasha never picked his spots. He took them all on–big or small. They don’t make them like Lakovic anymore.

    Let’s hope the Flames do right by him and his kin and do a tribute night for him early next season.

  • PrairieStew

    Bouma had made progress for 4 consecutive seasons. He made the NHL at a younger age than Curtis Glencross despite having missed an entire year due to a knee injury. The Flames had regretted letting Brandon Prust go (twice) and the projection was for Bouma to have an impact somewhere between a Prust or Glencross. At this point you can bury him as you did with Bollig – replace with Hathaway and you are roughly $200 k to the good.

  • class1div1

    Bouma was a B Hartley type player ,lots of shot blocks and hard hitting. He was fortunate to play up and down the lines due to injury when he scored 16 goals. Got paid. not a big deal.Not anywhere near as bad as Brouwer.

  • Derzie

    To quote one Pat Steinberg, this is chickenbleep. Bouma is a bad deal but the impact is nil. Peanuts. Remember that Burke starts with B as do the players with ‘B’ad contracts. Coincidence?

    • Pyroflatulence

      Buying out a contract like Brouwer’s sounds good but will suck for years as the team pays him off – it will handcuff them well into the future. Better off paying him to eat popcorn or package him up in a trade and retain salary

      • Kevin R

        Agreed. Do a deal like Brouwer & Wotherspoon for Crawford. Both have 3 years left & Hawks gain 1.5 mill in cap space per year & a potential cost effective depth Dman they need. Sounds like a no brainer to me. Why buy him out? I doubt Tre is wanting to go to Murray Edwards & tell him why he should write a cheque for 8.9 mill to a player we signed less than a year ago to now play against us & then carry almost 1.5 mill cap hit for him for the next 6 years. Uhh no thanks.

  • Jay

    I can see us going deep into the playoffs next season with this potential roster:

    Gaudreau-Monahan-Oshie
    Tkachuk-Backlund-Frolik
    Versteeg-Bennett-Ferland
    Chiasson-Lazar-Hathaway

    Giordano-Hamilton
    Alzner-Brodie
    Kulak-Stone

    Darling
    Gillies

    • everton fc

      While I like the look of this lineup “on paper”. Bouma can be dealt to a team w/cap floor challenges. He’s not a minor league hockey player. Alzner’s price tag will be high, and he’ll want term. Alzner means no to Stone, unless Stone takes the hometown discount. If we were to sign Alzner, I see Kulak and Andersson as our 5/6 , with Engelland as #7, and Bartkowski in the “A” . But we’ll need a cheap goalie tanden. Elliott/Rittich wouldn’t be bad if the defence in front of them was a smidge below the Caps. How much would Darling cost? I like Rittich over Gillies….

      Thinking out loud here – two guys I wouldn’t mind having here (dreaming out loud, perhaps) – Ryan Hartman in Chicago, and Antoine Roussell out of Dallas. Sign and move Versteeg to the RW, and a line of Roussel-Bennett-Versteeg could do some damage. And I still like Lazar-Stajan-Chiasson as a 4th line (we have to lose Brouwer – biggest off-season move for this club, even more so than goaltending).

    • trox

      I don’t understand all the love for Alzner. He is a marginal upgrade on Stone but will cost a lot more. Franson is significantly better and would not cost much more.

    • KKisTHEproblem

      Overall like it but no room for young guys to step up. Janko is going to be ready and needs to be groomed and play. I think he will beat out Lazar as 4C. And does Anderson get a shot next year? Its a recurring theme here, but Flames must get better at getting their young guys into games and on the team.

  • Jessemadnote

    Treliving actually learned from this contract which is the most important thing. He put business first and walked away from Joe Colborne this summer. If we were looking at 4 years of Colborne at 3.5-4 million we’d be in much worse shape