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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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|