Detroit Red Wings Rumors: Bouwmeester on the Radar?

By Rhys Richards (@RREsq)

CALGARY, CANADA – APRIL 5: Jay Bouwmeester #4 of the Calgary Flames skates against Samuel Pahlsson #26 of the Vancouver Canucks on April 5, 2012 at the Scotiabank Saddledome in Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo by Gerry Thomas/NHLI via Getty Images)

While NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and the owners cried lockout today, MLive.com reported that the Detroit Red Wings made an offer to the Calgary Flames for defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

Detroit has been rumored to have interest in Bouwmeester, but the news of the Achilles tendon tear suffered by Philadelphia’s Andrej Meszaros may have spurred the Red Wings into talks in an effort to beat the Flyers to the table.

The 28-year-old Bouwmeester has two years left on a contract that carries an average annual cap hit of $6.68 million. With over $13 million in cap space, Detroit can afford the 6-foot-4, 214-pound Edmonton native’s price tag. However, any trade would likely require Detroit to give up some pieces.

On Thursday, TSN reported that Detroit and Calgary were talking about a potential trade. One rumor on Twitter had Detroit offering 2010 first round draft pick Riley Sheahan and a future first round pick for Bouwmeester. Calgary was rumored to have countered with Justin Abdelkader, who is still not under contract, and a future first round draft pick.

Rumors and unnamed team sources add up to precisely nothing, but Bouwmeester would have plenty to offer as the potential new face of the Detroit defensive corps.

In three seasons with Calgary, Bouwmeester has yet to miss a game. In fact, Bouwmeester is the NHL’s current ironman with 588 consecutive games played without injury. The hulking defenseman has not missed a game since the 2003-2004 season when he was with the Florida Panthers, the team who drafted Bouwmeester 3rd overall in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.

Bouwmeester cannot fill the massive void left by former captain and future Hall of Famer Nicklas Lidstrom, but the 12+ goals and more than 40 points Bouwmeester posted in the 2006-07 and 2008-09 seasons would help.

Bouwmeester is in the prime of his career, which may mean that he can overcome the three sub-30 point seasons he produced in Calgary. Even if he cannot break 40 points again, he has and will continue to play big minutes for any team.

In fact, Bouwmeester led the Flames in time on ice last season, averaging 25:57 per game. To put that in perspective, Bouwmeester averaged over two minutes more on the ice per game than the now-retired Lidstrom did to lead Detroit.

While Bouwmeester’s prior offensive accomplishments and ability to play big minutes are attractive, he comes with some negatives. Only Pavel Datsyuk, who carries an annual cap hit of $6.7, makes more than Bouwmeester on the current Red Wings roster.

That price tag looks even more daunting when Bouwmeester’s career minus-54 is considered. Florida was not a good team when he played for the Panthers, and the Flames have lacked some luster in recent years, but Bouwmeester’s plus-minus has gotten progressively worse in Calgary. That trend could right itself on a Detroit team that scored 45 more goals than it allowed, as opposed to Calgary, which allowed 24 more goals than it scored.

In Bouwmeester’s time in Calgary, his shot totals have decreased from 130 to 107, a far cry from the approximately 182 shots he averaged in his last four seasons in Florida. Should that trend continue, Bouwmeester can expect future seasons of less than 40 points.

Though common junior hockey affiliations likely mean nothing, fellow Medicine Hat Tiger alums Ken Holland and Darren Helm would have stories to share with Bouwmeester.

If the trade price is indeed Abdelkader and a first round pick, Detroit should probably pass. If Calgary is willing to accept a combination of a lesser player, prospects, or picks, then the Red Wings may be well served to trade for Bouwmeester.

If Detroit trades for Bouwmeester and his recent mediocre production continues, his $6.68 million per year for two seasons is still nowhere near the burden that Dennis Wideman’s new five-year, $26.25 million contract could easily turn into for the Flames.

Statistics and other information obtained at www.nhlnumbers.com and www.hockeydb.com, and http://redwings.nhl.com/club/roster.htm.  

Share your thoughts about the NHL, the Detroit Red Wings, and hockey in general with Rhys at Twitter: @RREsq.  He can be reached via email at RhysJRichards@gmail.com.  Join the many fans of The Hockey Guys on Facebook and Twitter @TheHockeyGuys

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