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Numbers Game: Blues bring in Bouwmeester from Flames

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Scott Cullen
4/1/2013 10:02:32 PM
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Making a push for the postseason, the St. Louis Blues landed a top pair defenceman from the rebuilding Calgary Flames.

Numbers Game looks at the Blues' acquisition of Jay Bouwmeester.

The Blues Get: D Jay Bouwmeester.

Bouwmeester, 29, was once full of promise as a 6-foot-4 defenceman with exceptional skating ability and while he still logs heavy minutes, playing against the opposition's best on a nightly basis, his production tailed off dramatically after arriving in Calgary.

In the four seasons prior to joining the Flames, when Bouwmeester played for the Florida Panthers, he scored 47 goals and 167 points in 328 games. In three-plus seasons with the Flames, Bouwmeester has 18 goals and 97 points in 279 games. He's been asked to do a lot for the Flames, but the results have been, generally, disappointing. This year, Bouwmeester has six goals, nine assists and a minus-11 rating in 33 games.

Nevertheless, Bouwmeester has played at least 25 minutes per game, while never missing a game in every year since 2005-2006. There's something to be said for that durability.

Going to St. Louis, Bouwmeester doesn't have to play a more offensive role because the Blues already have Alex Pietrangelo and Kevin Shattenkirk are already running the Blues' fourth-ranked power play (22.4%) effectively, but Bouwmeester can log the heaviest minutes in a defensive role.

The Blues have reshaped their blueline, adding veterans Bouwmeester and Jordan Leopold, which should significantly cut into the playing time of Kris Russell, Wade Redden and Ian Cole, all of whom have had to battle just to hold a regular spot in the lineup.

The albatross that hangs over Bouwmeester's career is that he has played 750 career games in the NHL, but has yet to reach the postseason. The Blues obviously hope that streak will end this season but, if it doesn't, the first-round pick in the deal will be flipped to 2014.

Bouwmeester doesn't come cheaply, as his salary cap hit is $6.68-million through next season and that may have played some role in the return that the Flames received.

The Flames Get: D Mark Cundari, G Reto Berra and a first-round pick

Cundari turns 23 in three weeks and was undrafted out of junior, likely due in some part to his being 5-foot-9. However, he has proven that he's capable of handling the pro game and was leading Peoria defencemen with seven goals and 25 points, along with a plus-1 rating, in 56 games this season.

He's far from a sure thing as an NHLer, but Cundari is probably ready for a look at the next level and might be a serviceable third pair defenceman, with some puck-moving/power play skills, if he can make the jump.

Berra is a 26-year-old Swiss goaltender, with good size, standing 6-foot-4, but hasn't been good enough (3.01 GAA, .906 SV% in 49 GP this season) in Swiss League play to believe that he's ready for the NHL.

Berra has had some good moments in international play for Switzerland, going as far back as the World Juniors, and current Flames coach Bob Hartley surely must have seen him enough last season in Switzerland that there could be some reason for the Flames to be optimistic about Berra somehow finding a role in the NHL.

As with the Jarome Iginla trade, the draft pick is the real plum of the deal for the Flames. If the Blues don't make the playoffs, it shifts to 2014 but, if they just barely make it in, the Flames could be looking at a pick in the 15-18 range and that could provide a quality player.

With Bouwmeester gone, there should be a few more minutes in Calgary for a young defenceman like T.J. Brodie, whose role has been increasing throughout the season, and Chris Butler is probably due for more than the career-low 15:35 per game he's played this season.

Considering the appeal that Bouwmeester, with another year remaining on his contract, would figure to have in a league where teams clamour for top-pair defencemen, it's somewhat of a surprise that the Flames didn't get more, but the rebuilding process is underway in Calgary and they not only have three first-round picks, but by dealing Iginla and Bouwmeester (with potentially more to come), they are increasing their odds of landing an elite talent with one of the top picks in this year's draft.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@bellmedia.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

Jay Bouwmeester (Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

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(Photo: Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
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