The dust hasn't even settled around the Jay Bouwmeester trade and already numerous hockey sites are analyzing the deal, selecting a winner. It's always difficult to analyze a deal that involves prospects or picks as it could be years before we know exactly what the Blues gave up for their new defenseman.
With that being said, early indications are that the Blues are the clear winner in this surprising trade.
I took a brief look at Bouwmeester in the trade post yesterday, but let's build a bit on what the Blues are receiving from Calgary.
Bouwmeester, 29, has one bloated contract. Checking in at $6.6 million a season, it'd be tough for almost any NHL defenseman to live up to that salary. Simply, Bouwmeester isn't worth that much money and he likely never will be. He's still under contract in 2013-14, but this trade will have to be reevaluated if the Blues sign him to a long-term extension.
Now, moving away from the contract, Bouwmeester is still a reliable, dependable defenseman. How dependable? Bouwmeester has played in 82 games in each of the last seven seasons. That's an incredible streak in an incredibly demanding, physical sport. His ability to suit up night after night is a remarkable feat in an age where even the most hardened veteran is forced to miss time.
Offensively, Bouwmeester has trailed off since moving to Calgary. With the Florida Panthers, Bouwmeester was a major offensive contributor, notching 167 points in his last four years with the team. However, when Bouwmeester left for Calgary, his big offensive numbers didn't travel with him. He chipped in 29 points in 2009-10, 24 in 2010-11 and 29 in 2011-12. Whether his decline was due to a personal regression or a lack of offensive talent around him is up for debate, but the fact remains that his numbers have slipped. He has enjoyed a bit of a rebound in 2013, which would be an added bonus for the Blues if Bouwmeester recaptures his numbers of old.
Defensively, there isn't much to say about Bouwmeester and that's a good thing. You know what to expect and that's Bouwmeester will get his job done while eating up an enormous amount of minutes each night.
That's what the Blues will receive – a stud defenseman that now gives the Blues an incredibly skilled group where the third pairing consists of Jackman and Polak. Wow.
So, did the Blues win this trade? Let's look at what they gave Calgary.
First-round pick in 2013 that could be deferred to 2014 if the Blues fail to make the playoffs. The value of this pick all depends where the Blues finish in 2013, obviously. For Calgary, the pick they receive is the most valuable piece headed their way. Feel free to speculate on who Calgary might use it on, but the fact is Calgary's rebuilding process is fully underway and this pick will help quite a bit.
On to the prospects. Defenseman Mark Cundari and goaltender Reto Barra are prospects, but no one would place them in the category of "elite prospects." Cundari is given a "C" probability of success on a A-F scale from Hockey's Future. He has skated with the Peoria Rivermen since 2010-11 after he went undrafted and was signed by the Blues from the OHL. The analysis on Cundari is that he's small for a defenseman but he's strong in the corners and plays a physical game for his size. He has shown some offensive flair, but his decisions with the puck are often questioned.
Goaltender Reto Barra (what an awesome name) is a big man, standing 6'4". At 27, he has yet to make an appearance in North America, spending time in the Swiss League. Hockey's Future has him pegged as a "D" in probability of success, due to the fact he has yet to make a strong enough impression to even be considered in the discussion for the AHL, let alone the NHL.
Most Blues fans have probably never heard of Cundari or Barra prior to this trade and that should tell you everything you need to know. It was believed Calgary wanted elite prospects. One of the names rumored in the deal was Ty Rattie, but the Blues escaped by dishing out two guys that might not ever make an NHL roster.
It's pretty easy to see why most outlets have labeled the Blues as the clear winner in this trade. Essentially, it boils down to Bouwmeester for a first-round pick and two spare parts. Considering Calgary's believed large price tag for the defender, it's almost hard to believe that the Blues were able to secure Bouwmeester for seemingly very little.
Doug Armstrong – you might have just done it again.