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The Defence Rests?

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In the wake of yet another disappointing and listless effort from the Flames, positives are as rare to find as a Sutter supporter. I felt it was time to take a look at two positives the Flames have going for them, not only for this current team, but also for a rebuild should that be required.

Perhaps no player has felt more heat, from this writer included, than Jay Bouwmeester. Bouwmeester represents the vision and direction of Darryl Sutter that so many have come to hate. He can be viewed as the piece that replaced Mike Cammalleri, and his 39 goals, on a team that is now starving for goals. He represents a move from being one of the top offensive teams to the bottom in just one season, all at a 6.6 million dollar per year price tag. The relationship has not always been positive, up until now.

Bouwmeester currently sits at 11 points, with 3 goals, 8 assists and a plus 5, all while being right near the top of the league in time on ice. People will look at those stats and likely not be blown away or really at that impressed. At the end of the day, Bouwmeester is on pace for 7 goals and 26 points and all for over 6 million dollars. However, what if one were to take away the first 6 games of the year where there was no question that Bouwmeester struggled. Through the first 6 games of the year he recorded no goals, no points and was a minus 1. Since then, through 27 games, he has recorded 3 goals 11 assists and is a plus 6. Over an 82 game season that pace would result in 9 goals and just over 30 points which is far more impressive and much closer to the pace fans would expect, and would indicate an improvement over last season. At the beginning of the year he was averaging about 2.6 shots/ game, and after that 6 games mark it has fallen to 1.7/game. Last year, Bouwmeester’s average was 1.5 shots/game and during that time he was ridiculed constantly. Many would look at those stats and suggest that he needs to shoot more. However, his shooting percentage has also gone from 2.3 last year up to 5.1% this season and much closer to the 6-9% range he typically recorded in his Florida days. I would suggest that this shows a comfort level he has reached finally as a Flame. He is taking more shots, but also is successful at a higher ratio which would suggest he is more comfortable picking his spots and his opportunities. All while remaining very solid in his defensive game. Is his level at the 6.6 range? That is an arbitrary debate that everyone will fall on different sides of. For now, it provides a much better return on investment, and a player that flames fans should feel very comfortable with long term.

While not his direct partner, Mark Giordano is another defensemen that should have Flames fan very confidence in their future. There has been no “sophomore” slump or any fall in his place especially after his contract. With the improved play of these two dmen, the Flames have two building blocks for now and for the future that are both below the age of 28. Whether it be a rebuild, retool, or stay the course, it’s very clear that defence will not be an issue.

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True but like you mentioned, that $6.6M contract is a lot of money and will be the measuring stick he is judged by no matter if he is playing really well or not. He can look forward to being our version of Brian Campbell (who we used to make fun of at $7M per) and any slumps he goes through will have the fans building gallows. It's too bad and not JBo's fault that market value was out of whack at the time of his signing. The only thing that will redeem his value is a Norris before the end of his contract and there is some very stiff competition out there that makes it an extreme long shot. If an opportunity should ever arise to move JBo for a proper return, the Flames should probably take it no matter if he is playing well or not only because it's too much to spend on a blueliner that can't carry the team into the playoffs.

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Chief I do see a few difference between Bo and Campbell, mainly minutes Bo plays top minutes against top players, Campbell is a 2nd pairing guy. I do agree that for him to earn his pay he needs to get the Lidstrom, Chara, Pronger balance of being elite at both ends. I could also see him not wanting to be part of a rebuild, he signed when he believed the Flames were a legit contender going on 600 games without a playoff game has got to be wearing on him. Who knows the guy may curse every team he is on, no playoffs in 4 years in the dub, none in the Nhl, he did in the A but that was after transferring to another team.

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Chief, I definetly would have agreed with you 3 months ago, and thought jbow should be moved if at all possible. however, with how he has played now I would suggest he's worth about 5 to 5.5 million so I'll eat the 1 mill of dead cap space to retain his services. Especially if they are going to deal Iggy/Kipper/Regehr and others in a rebuild.

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Thing to remember guys is that if Calgary hadn't gotten him at the price we did, I can almost guarantee that someone else would have given him over 7 million in Free Agency. To acquire a player through free agency, you have to overpay. That's why its not wise to build your team through free agency (Sather...)

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Chief, I definetly would have agreed with you 3 months ago, and thought jbow should be moved if at all possible. however, with how he has played now I would suggest he's worth about 5 to 5.5 million so I'll eat the 1 mill of dead cap space to retain his services. Especially if they are going to deal Iggy/Kipper/Regehr and others in a rebuild.

You may not like this (and I know you are smart enough to know better) but I think that's exactly how Darryl Sutter started this cap mess we are currently in, ie."I like this player so paying 1 mil or so over to retain him is small potatoes..." multiplied by several players... then those players didn't pan out like he hoped and there is no recourse to deal them because we don't have the cap flexibility to deal with their negative trade value.

JBo is impressing me (finally) and I agree that paying a little more to retain him through a rebuild is not a bad idea if we are in a position to do that but there is some serious maneuvering that needs to be done before we can honor all existing contracts and still fill out a semi-competitive roster next year. Of course dealing core members before the start of next season and Daymond Langkow's career status would have an affect on the direction you go with JBo but I don't think you can count on gaining much cap space in any deals involving Regehr, Kiprusoff or Iggy simply because most teams can't afford to put themselves in the same position as the Flames are in by trading their high picks/prospects for big dollar, multiyear contract players who will likely not be earning their cap hit in the latter part of their deals and don't guarantee cup success, the majority of teams will know we are not dealing from strength and will insist on sending cap back.

The Flames are the poster children of cap mismanagement in the new NHL (save maybe New Jersey) We have shown why you can't afford to spend recklessly on long shots with precious cap money like Dutter has. The common thinking would be that the more prospect talent you have in the system and/or the more upcoming top end draft picks and/or the more cap space you have, the more risks you can take in overpaying certain players to fill key roles on the team to win now. This is where I get really upset and confused at the risks that Dutter has taken with our future. With our high end prospects/draft picks being severely depleted and no cap space reserved as an insurance policy, he acquired some cap significant multiyear contracts to fix what he thought was broken that were as far from being sure things as you can get. I think when you are figuratively working without a net, you should play it safe and bide your time and wait for a high percentage opportunity to present itself, in other words, don't bet the farm on a flip of a coin. (The Phaneuf deal, the Rangers deal)

I like the strategy of "win now" and building to be perennially competitive but not at the cost of putting the team at serious risk of multiyear catastrophic failure and it appears to me that in his ego driven obsession to prove he was right all along, Darryl Sutter has put the team into that very position as sure as if he had drawn up blueprints with those intentions in mind. His only choices to move disappointing contracts are to take back equally unproductive overpaid contracts in trade (why?), utilize cap space to sell at a loss (we don't have cap space), or stand pat and painfully ride out the duration of the contract(s). He must pray every night that the angry mob doesn't beat down his door while he waits for some miracle prospect to drop into his lap like manna from heaven or dream that like in a B rated late night zombie movie, the dead half of the team rises and starts playing like they are some unstoppable hockey monsters with a blood thirst for the Stanley Cup.

While I don't disagree with your theoretical assessment of our D core moving forward, I think that this team's ability to overpay for anyone is severely limited.

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