Photo Credit: Sergei Belski / USA Today Sports

FlamesNation Player Evaluation: Lance Bouma

Three years ago, Lance Bouma had one of the best years of his hockey-playing career. Not just NHL – hockey, in general, dating back to his Bantam and Midget days. He’s never been a big scorer, but 34 points in the NHL? That’s impressive, especially considering Bouma’s years of playing history.

That netted him a three-year, $2.2 million per contract. Two years into it, and he hasn’t come remotely close to meeting the expectations that one year set.

This, unfortunately, is not a surprise.

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2016-17 season summary

Bouma had somewhat of a better year than he did in 2015-16. That season was plagued by injuries; this past season, he played an additional 17 games, for 61 on the season.

He did suffer a shoulder injury early in the season that sidelined him for a month, and was the reason he missed 16 of the 21 games he did. The other five, though? Healthy scratches. And even before he was injured, he had scored all of one assist on the season – 13 games to that date.

Bouma’s year saw him score three goals and put up seven points in 61 games. He was the only Flames regular who failed to hit double digits in scoring. The next lowest regular in scoring was Deryk Engelland, and he put up 16 points over 81 games – a .20 point per game rate compared to Bouma’s .11, and that’s comparing a defensive defenceman eight years older to a forward who should be in his prime. There’s being a fourth liner, and then there’s your linemates more than tripling you in scoring, as Matt Stajan did.

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Bouma was at the bottom end of the barrel for ice time, averaging 11:20 a game. (Micheal Ferland averaged 11:33 when all was said and done; he scored 25 points, 15 before he was bumped up to the top line.) He did not receive powerplay time, but was featured on the penalty kill, playing 97:20 shorthanded. Thirteen Flames played at least 40 minutes killing penalties; all but three of them put up at least one shorthanded point, the exceptions being Engelland, Dennis Wideman, and Bouma.

So we’re looking at a fourth line forward who couldn’t even keep up with his fellow depth players in terms of production. What else?

Compared to last season

Via Corsica:

Bouma’s corsi may have improved from the past season, but it’s probably safe to say that’s more attributable to the overall effect Glen Gulutzan had on the Flames than by anything Bouma did in particular. He was under 50% the entire season, never once breaking into positive possession territory.

He made have gotten tough zone starts that didn’t see too many of his contemporaries fare much better, but that just brings us back to the first point: he scored seven points in 61 games. Three goals, one primary assist, three secondary assists. In 2015-16, he scored seven points in 44 games: two goals, three primary assists, two secondary assists. Not one hint of an improvement; if anything, a little worse offensively.

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A shoulder injury doesn’t explain that away.

Most common linemates


It’s not a pretty picture for Bouma. He didn’t spend a lot of time with any good players, and when he did, he dragged them down, Dougie Hamilton being the most dramatic example. He marginally improved when away from Engelland, Jyrki Jokipakka, and Matt Bartkowski (three bottom pairing defencemen at absolute best); everyone else was clearly better away from him.

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What’s next?

Here’s the first question: what does Bouma bring to the team?

Now, consider the Flames’ need to upgrade their forward corps. Bouma is easily the weakest among all regular Flames players. Before that, Brandon Bollig was the weakest – and he spent the last year of his over-inflated three-year deal in the AHL.

Here’s the second question: is Bouma even in the NHL next season?

Even if he goes on another shooting percentage-inflated, Mikael Backlund linemated-added rampage as he did in 2014-15, it’s difficult to see him back with the Flames once his contract runs out.

#1 – Brian Elliott #5 – Mark Giordano
#6 – Dennis Wideman #7 – T.J. Brodie
#10 – Kris Versteeg #11 – Mikael Backlund
#13 – Johnny Gaudreau

  • Puckhead

    If he can’t be traded (even with salary retained) it may make sense to send him down to Stockton and pull up a another player, assuming a better option exists. Having a 4th line that is not a liability and can chip in some points can be a difference maker for making it into the playoffs and then succeeding in the playoffs. The 4th line as it now stands does not excite me in any way.

  • class1div1

    His corsi improved, but it had nothing to do with him. The coach gets credit for the improved corsi.If this is true than all corsi stats are subject to endless scrutiny.

    • piscera.infada

      Not the point. The team as a whole improved. Bouma’s improvement mirrored that improvement. He’s still one of the most ineffective players on the roster. As such, his modest improvement doesn’t suddenly make him a player worth keeping around.

      • class1div1

        Not the point. I was referring to all the contextual meaning and variance in reading the value of corsi.You are interested in kicking him off the team.Very different points.

        • Davebot

          If you want context look at his relative corsi. Has Bouma improved in relation to his teammates? His rel.CF% for the past three years is: -4.03 (his dream season), -3.35, and -5.21. He stayed about the same at driving play and looks to have gotten worse. It’s reasonable to conclude that his corsi improvement this season is due to the team doing better (new players, coaching systems, whatever) rather than Bouma improving.

  • PrairieStew

    There is roughly a $900K credit if you send him down. So it’s a small savings if it is Shinkaruk or Klimchuk replacing him – and maybe a little more if it Hathaway – pending a new deal for him. They rode out the last year of Bollig this way – could happen with Bouma too – or maybe someone claims him if you send him down. Regardless, I think it is safe to say he is no longer guaranteed a spot.

  • BringtheFire

    The thing about Booms is he has this uncanny ability to zoom into the offensive zone alone-on line changes, presumably-and rarely he gets a shot off, but it’s like…it’s like no one told him he has to do other stuff once he gets there.

    He just gains the zone gets it deep and says “Mission accomplished!”

    Then the other team promptly takes the puck back up the ice.

  • Bouma will never again be the player that earned him his current contract. He has very likely peaked. He doesn’t drive play. He has only had one productive season. He’ll be 28 at the end of his contract. It’s time to move on, and you hope Las Vegas taking him as a low risk 4th liner is what happens.