Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Bouwmeester Preparing To Leave Florida

Yesterday, Jay Bouwmeester signed a one year $4.875 million contract with the Florida Panthers. In the strange world of the NHL that means he is likely leaving Florida as soon as he can. Bouwmeester was a restricted free agent. Next year (at age 25 - since he has been in the NHL since age 18) will be the earliest time he can be an unrestricted free agent and chose the location where he plays. Next year will be the first time he has the choice to play somewhere other than Florida. The fact Bouwmeester signed a one year contract (and not a longer one) shows that he is looking forward to that unrestricted free agency date and planning to move to a different market.

It has long been rumored that Jay Bouwmeester is unhappy with the way the Florida Panthers are run. It is hard to blame him. The team hasn't made the playoffs since 2000 (he joined the team in 2002) and with their trade of Olli Jokinen, who was last year's top scorer, the playoffs don't seem on the likely horizon. Bouwmeester wants to go somewhere where he can win.

In all likelihood, there will be a Jay Bouwmeester trade around the 2009 trade deadline and he will be a hot free agent in the summer of 2009. It seems clear that this is his last season in Florida.

Here is TSN's story on the signing, which carries the ironic headine "Staying In Florida". It turns out that the fastest way for Bouwmeester to get out of Florida was to sign this contract with them.

1) Tom benjamin in his blog makes a good point that since Jay has been playing big time minutes how much blame should he accept for the teams lack of success?
2) That said, agree that his days in south Florida are numbered
Hockey is a team game. One player does not make a team. Bouwmeester is a very good defender and could be next summer's most sought after free agent. I don't blam him for Florida's failures. I blame the Florida management for not getting enough good players to surround him with.
1) Certainly he shouldn't shoulder ALL the blame, but as a player who gets lots of ice time shouldn't he get some of the blame for lack of success?
2) Agreed that IF/when he becomes a UFA he'd get a LOT of very lucritive offers. Maybe even the highest paid defensemen. Deserved or not.
Bouwmeester definitely deserves a chance on a winning team. I mean if a person is successful at anything, he wants to develop and grow as a professional. The worst is to stay on a team that pulls you down. Especially he was with them for so many years, sometimes you just have to say goodbye. I mean this is not a surprise for anyone; however it's weird that signing a contract was actually his way out!
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