Instead of discreetly picking on captain Jarome Iginla as the poster boy for underachievers, maybe coach Brent Sutter ought to try to squeeze a little more out of the player once known as Jay Bouwmeester.
Boo-meester has pretty much blended into the woodwork since arriving from Florida in 2009 and signing a five-year contract worth $33 million. Not since Wade Redden has a player fallen from Canadian Olympic team pedigree to ordinary so quickly. Redden, 33, is now in the AHL, making Boo-meester the most overpaid defenceman in the NHL.
At $6.68-million cap hit, Boo-meester is the third highest-paid defenceman in the NHL behind Brian Campbell ($7.142 million) and Zdeno Chara ($6.916 million).
The list of defencemen making less than Boo-meestar’s cap hit include Duncan Keith, Chris Pronger, Dan Boyle, Mike Green, Nicklas Lidstrom, Andrei Markov, and on and on.
It’s not that Boo-meester is lousy. He just doesn’t do a whole heckuva lot. For his kind of stipend and his skating ability, he should be rushing the puck more, quarterbacking the power play and leading the offence from the blue-line.
In Calgary, Boo-meester has shown himself to be not overly creative with the puck, an average passer and a sub-standard pass receiver (watch pucks bounce clumsily off his stick when he’s accepting a pass).
In Florida, Bouwmeester was a two-way force, scoring 42 goals in his last three seasons, near the top among NHL defencemen.
In Calgary, Boo-meester went 57 games without a goal last season and has just four in 93 games. His 29 points last season ranked just 53rd among NHL defencemen and he’s not any better this season.
Defensively, Boo-meester is much better than average, though he is prone to giveaways when he relies on passing the puck out of danger rather than skating it out, which is sometimes the better option. He’s a minute-muncher and he’s generally reliable. But so are similarly talented defenders such as Marc-Eduoard Vlasic in San Jose ($3.1 million) and Barrett Jackman in St. Louis ($3.6 million).
Sadly, Boo-meester isn’t a hitter and doesn’t instil fear in opponents for parking near the crease, the way similar body-types Pronger and Chara do.
The Flames clearly overpaid for Boo-meester a year ago. They were seduced by his size, skating ability and youth. Imagine if Calgary had earmarked that cap hit to keep Mike Cammalleri instead?