Really? This is the guy that GM's are going to be battling over this weekend?
James has already chimed in on the fate of the Florida Panthers this season. But I have a bigger question... who the heck is Jay Bouwmeester anyway? I spend the majority of my time watching Western Conference hockey, and since the Kings have only played the Florida Panthers 5 times in the last 5 years... I really don't feel like I have a clear sense of how good or how mediocre a defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is. I've never had him on a fantasy team, never traded for him in NHL 07, 08 or 09 and never heard a friend say "oh man, that Bouwmeester is a BEAST on the blueline." Although, if any friend said that about a NHL player I probably would hit him. Or at least smile at him gently.
Here's what I do know about Jay Bouwmeester... he is the current NHL leader in consecutive games played, not missing a game in 4+ seasons. His career high in points is 46. Career high in penalty minutes is 79. And he averages about 27 minutes a game. He's 25 years old and is a 6 year NHL veteran. So we are looking at a reliable, top 30 NHL defenseman without much of a mean streak. And man, does he know how to look non-threatening in a photo.
So if you are an NHL GM... do you make a play for this UFA? What do you give up for someone who seems to have no intention of signing with a NHL team before this summer? Remember, the NHL Trading Deadline causes strange things to happen... witness Mike Comrie being swapped for a low #1 draft pick. But for a NHL All-Star defenseman? Lubomir Visnovsky cost the Oilers Jarret Stoll and Matt Greene. What would you trade for Kyle Quincey? What would you pay to get Keith Duncan or Ryan Suter? Could Ron Hainsey be the one to put you over the 8th seed bubble? Because all those guys are in and around JBo.
Now I'm sure that Bouwmeester has some amazing intangibles that I'm just not aware of because I haven't seen him play as much as I've seen Pronger, Phaneuf, Souray or Jovanovski. And I realize that is my fault. But can you really blame me for not catching a lot of Florida Panther games over the past few years? I mean look at this monstrosity of a jersey.
Florida wants the return you get for a #1 defenseman because Florida actually thinks Bouwmeester is a #1 defenseman. In reality, he's a strong 2nd on a good NHL team. He is only getting so much hype because he is a UFA. But here's the fun part about the Trading Deadline. Someone will probably will give up what Florida wants. And then Brian Burke will get double that for any of his Toronto fire-sales.
What say you Florida Panther fans? I know that you come to this blog in force. Is Bouwmeester really that good and he's never gotten the chance to play in a meaningful game? (well, he did play in 18 AHL playoff games with Chicago in 2005... and had 0 points.) Or has he just been the best defenseman on an awful team the last 5 years? Believe the hype or not?