a·cu·men [ak-yuh-muhn] noun: keen insight; shrewdness

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Sunday, 8 July 2012

07/08/12 What Would It Take To Get JayBo?

According to The Fourth Period, the Oilers are believed to be one of five teams who have inquired about Jay Bouwmeester's availability. In many ways Bouwmeester would be a good fit for the Oilers, but what would Edmonton have to give their arch rivals to get it done?

First, the obvious question: how would JayBo fit in Edmonton?

Bouwmeester has a no trade clause in his contract which he would have to waive to be traded anywhere. Now that Alberta's teams appear to be passing each other in opposite directions, a change of scenery may be palatable for the Edmonton native. His $6.68 million cap hit is not an enormous concern as the Oilers have the space for it in 2012-13 and much more opening up the year after that. He'd be put into a shutdown role and would do a lot to steady a back end that has been shaky to say the least in recent years.

Roger Millions tweeted that the Flames:

"Have NOT tried to trade Bouw. Others have expressed some interest I am told, we may find out quickly if that's so."

This is an odd communique from Millions, considering that he earlier reported that the Flames will not be a cap team next season. As it stands now Calgary is spending a little under $67 million and have the third-highest payroll in the NHL. It's not necessary from a cap standpoint for the Flames to shed salary, but they're shelling out a lot of scratch for a roster that will most likely be a playoff bubble team. If there truly is an internal budget and Iginla and Kiprusoff are staying put, Bouwmeester is the obvious contract to shuffle out the door.

And if it is indeed for financial reasons that the Flames decide to move their number one defenseman, what goes back to Calgary will have to be relatively inexpensive. A top-six forward would be the center of the Flames' asking price.

Such is the reason that the Flames have been linked to the St. Louis Blues. The Blues could use another defender to put them over the top, and they also have right winger Ty Rattie in their system, who just finished a season with the Portland Winterhawks in which he had 57-64-121 in just 69 games. Rattie's cap hit is a shade over $800,000 for the next three years. Forwards Vladimir Tarasenko and Jaden Schwartz are top Blues prospets who could also be part of a package. Seems like a match made in heaven except for the fact that the Blues didn't have a forward who scored more than 54 points last year, and as a team they were 21st in league scoring. If the St. Louis Blues are to continue breathing the rare air at the top of the NHL standings, they'll need to add more scoring and not rely on another season of 0.940 Sv% from Brian Elliott.

That brings us to the Oilers. Edmonton is brimming with top six forwards; so much so in fact that not all of them figure to be on the opening night roster. But what the Flames really need is something the Oilers won't be in a hurry to part with. Unless you count Roman Cervenka (you shouldn't), the Flames currently lack a center with any offensive capabilities.

The official news release from the Flames' website listed free agent acquisition Jiri Hudler as a center, and they may try him there. That could be an interesting adventure, as Hudler played primarily with centers Henrik Zetterberg and Valtteri Filppula in 2011-12, and took only 7 draws all year long.

The Oilers and Flames have only made one trade in their long history as provincial rivals, with Steve Staios donning the flaming C in exchange for Aaron Johnson and third round pick. Could these two teams even strike a bargain involving bigger pieces? If it was to happen the deal would have to be sweeter than what any other suitors offered. The other teams linked to Bouwmeester are the Blues, Red Wings, Hurricanes and Flyers. One would think that the Oilers could put together a package comparable to those teams, and it could start with Magnus Paajarvi.

On his own Paajarvi isn't enough to fetch Bouwmeester, but his cap-friendly $1.525 million contract is an easy pill. Paajarvi has the tools to be a top-six forward, and the defensive acumen to be moved to center if necessary. He also has the benefit of being an experienced NHL forward who was simply saddled with some extremely bad puck luck in 2011-12. Sharing the ice with Eric Belanger didn't help matters either.

It's not without some trepidation that the Oilers would move Paajarvi, especially to their arch rivals, but adding a piece like Bouwmeester would have much greater effect on the team's efforts to spring toward the playoffs than another skilled winger. The other problem is that the Flames will undoubtedly want more for Bouwmeester and the Oilers will be quicker to draw a line in the sand than teams outside the division. Still, if it's at all possible that Jay Bouwmeester could spend the next two seasons in Edmonton, it's an idea well worth exploring.


  1. Jerconjake, please get your facts straight. Jay Bouwmeester may have the largest contract on the Flames. He may be the NHL iron man for minutes played, but he is NOT the Flames' number 1 defenceman. Mark Giordano is.

    1. Bouwmeester played almost 26:00 per night, the sixth-highest average in the NHL, including more time than Giordano at even strength and shorthanded. To me that's a number one.