FanHouse's Adam Gretz takes a look at his top 50 players in the NHL. No. 37 is Calgary Flames defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.
After spending his first six seasons in Florida, Jay Bouwmeester moved on to Calgary this offseason, signing a five-year, $33 million contract after his rights were traded for defenseman Jordan Leopold and a third-round pick. Would Florida have received more for Bouwmeester at the NHL's trade deadline? Probably, yes. But, as I've argued in this space many times since then, Florida still made the right decision, even though it lost its best player, and didn't have a trip to the playoffs to show for it.
At the deadline, Florida looked like a solid playoff contender, and trading Bouwmeester would have been tossing up a white flag and giving up on the season when there was really no reason to do so. It didn't work out in the end, but, a team that hasn't made the playoffs since 1999-2000, and has only qualified three times in its 15-year existence, needed to do everything it could in an effort to get in.
Bouwmeester now joins a Calgary team that has plenty of playoff experience, but suffered a disappointing first-round exit this past season. He'll help form one of the best top-three's in the NHL, teaming up with Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr.
Draft Year: 2002
Taken third overall behind Columbus' Rick Nash and Atlanta's Kari Lehtonen, and one spot before Philadelphia's Joni Pitkanen.
Why He's On My List
One of the fastest skaters in the NHL, and possessing the ideal size and talent of a No. 1 defenseman, Bouwmeester has been a model of durability and a workhorse along the blue line in his six-year NHL career. He's played in 471 of a possible 492 games, and has played a full 82-game campaign five times in six years. He hasn't missed a game in the post-lockout NHL, and has finished in the top-seven in terms of total time on ice the past four seasons, leading the league in each of the past two. He's developed into a consistent 12-15 goal-scorer, and while he's not neccessarily an intimidating physical player, he's good enough defensively to be matched up against the other team's top offensive line.
Obligatory YouTube Video
Bouwmeester scraps with Max Talbot. According to HockeyFights.com it's the only fight of his career.