You’ll be hearing Jay Bouwmeester’s name a lot more over the next three months and if the Senators have their way, you’ll be hearing a lot more about him before the NHL’s trade deadline has passed.
Looking for a puck-moving defenseman – who would have thought Ottawa would be in this situation a few years ago - the Senators are one of several teams interested in landing what is considered the biggest catch of this year’s trade deadline. Bouwmeester is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent July 1. It’s expected the Florida Panthers will not be able to sign him, so they will deal him to the highest bidder before March 4.
It says here, however, that the worst thing for Bouwmeester would be to sign long-term with a Canadian team. Even though he doesn’t seem to want it, the best thing Bouwmeester could do is continue to play in south Florida where few people know about hockey and even fewer are astute hockey observers.
Bouwmeester is one of the most overrated players in the game. Since he was 15-years-old, people have marveled at his skating ability and his skill set, but for a player with such an impressive array of skills, he hasn’t accomplished very much. He has played on some weak teams to be sure, but in the 10 seasons since he began playing junior hockey, he has played in the playoffs just once and that was with a stacked American League Chicago Wolves team during the lockout. In 18 playoff games that year, Bouwmeester had a grand total of zero points.
Hockey Canada seems to have an undying love affair with the guy, but he has rarely made a significant impact with any Canadian team in international competition. He doesn’t use his size very well, seems far too timid to take control of a game and seems to leave people, more often than not, bewildered that a player with such supposed impressive credentials could have such little impact on the game.
That may change. After all, Bouwmeester is just 25-years-old. But it will be that much harder if he takes his game to a hockey-mad market where fans and media will be dissecting his every move. That’s why he’d be best off playing in an outpost where people don’t know or care much about hockey.
This column also appears in the Ottawa Metro newspaper.
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