MONTREAL – When Chris Pronger was dealt to the Philadelphia Flyers on the first day of the NHL draft, the Florida Panthers watched the value in Jay Bouwmeester’s rights evaporate in a big way.
With the Flyers immediately out of the picture for Bouwmeester, the Panthers were left with just one dance partner and made the most of the situation, dealing his rights to the Calgary Flames for fellow pending unrestricted free agent Jordan Leopold and a third-round pick. There will be no further compensation coming to the Panthers should Bouwmeester sign with the Flames.
“We felt all along there would be no free looks,” said Panthers acting GM Randy Sexton. “We wanted to get something of value because of the quality of player and we tried hard to get a second-round pick, but nobody would pony up. We had a deal with several teams on a third – what varied was the different amount of compensation if he signed. But (Friday) night the deal had to adjust because you have to have more than one horse in the race.”
In the end, the deal came about because it came crystal clear to the Panthers that Bouwmeester had no intention of returning to south Florida and the Flames were not going to be able to sign Leopold. Both teams expressed guarded confidence they would be able to make headway in contract negotiations between now and July 1 when both players are scheduled to become UFAs.
In fact, Flames GM Darryl Sutter said he plans to venture north to Edmonton where Bouwmeester spends his summers to speak with the defenseman personally early next week. He had no real feel as to whether or not Bouwmeester would be willing to sign, but the one criterion the Flames meet is they are a contending team. Bouwmeester has repeatedly said he wants to go to a team that has a chance to win the Stanley Cup.
Sexton said Bouwmeester gave the Panthers a list of 18 teams to which he would be interested in being dealt at the time and the Flames were near the top of the list.
“If I was even an average defenseman, I’d want to play on a defense that had Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf,” Sutter said.
Signing Bouwmeester will require a big-money, long-term offer that will certainly cause the Flames to make some adjustments. Coming into the draft, they were almost $10 million under the salary cap for next season, but have some key holes to fill, including replacing Mike Cammalleri, who will almost certainly sign elsewhere as a UFA.
“Darryl’s an aggressive guy,” Sexton said. “He’s clever, he’s creative. I think he’ll find a way to get it done.”
Meanwhile, the agent for Daniel and Henrik Sedin met with Canucks GM Mike Gillis Friday night, but there was little progress to report. The Sedins are seeking identical 12-year deals worth $63 million, but the Canucks have not made a counter offer.
Talks to trade Dany Heatley, meanwhile, fizzled out at the draft, raising the specter that he could return to the Senators next season. Senators GM Bryan Murray was not able to get anywhere near what he deemed to be equal value for Heatley – something about teams not wanting to make a deal for petulant whiners with questionable off-ice habits who request a trade after signing a long-term deal with a no-trade clause.
A number of NHL types believed the Flyers overpaid for Pronger, but not as much as the Washington Capitals would have had to surrender for him. The Ducks were apparently asking for goalie Simeon Varlamov, prospect John Carlson, another player off the Capitals roster and draft picks.
MAD ABOUT ‘THE MONSTER’
The four teams hoping to sign Swedish goaltender Jonas Gustavsson pulled out all the stops to impress him during the goalie’s North American tour.
The Toronto Maple Leafs, Colorado Avalanche, San Jose Sharks and Dallas Stars are the finalists for Gustavsson, who is nicknamed ‘The Monster.’
When Gustavsson visited the Leafs, he was subject to a passionate speech from GM Brian Burke, then entered the dressing room, where the Leafs had placed sweaters of some of their all-time great goaltenders Turk Broda, Terry Sawchuk, Harry Lumley, Mike Palmateer, Felix Potvin, Curtis Joseph and Ed Belfour. In the next stall was a sweater with Gustavsson’s name and full goalie gear.
In Colorado, the Avalanche set up a stall with Gustavsson’s name and next to it was a computer with a Skype hookup to former Avalanche goaltending great Patrick Roy.
The Sharks assembled a stall for Gustavsson between those of Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau and the Stars made 35 customized T-shirts with the American and Swedish flags for Gustavsson to give to family members and friends.
From the road in Montreal, host Ken Campbell, writer Ryan Kennedy and web content specialist Rory Boylen discuss… The Jay Bouwmeester trade… Rounds 2-7… This year’s goalie crop… And those who fell further than predicted. Producer: Ted Cooper.
Ken Campbell, author of the book Habs Heroes, is a senior writer for The Hockey News and a regular contributor to THN.com. His blog appears Wednesday and Fridays and his column, Campbell’s Cuts, appears Mondays.
For more great profiles, news and views from the world of hockey, subscribe to The Hockey News magazine.