The Calgary Flames finished last season in no-man’s land. They missed the playoffs despite employing a high-cost veteran nucleus.
A series of draft disappointments left the franchise without the Next Wave of exciting young talent. General manager Jay Feaster, caught in between, decided not to blow up the team and start over.
Instead, he hopes to engineer a partial renovation to freshen up his group for new coach Bob Hartley.
Disappointing defenseman Jay Bouwmeester could depart as part of that process. His professional decline continued last season with a minus-21 rating and just 29 points.
He carries a cap hit of nearly $7 million for each of the next two seasons. But his size/skill combination figures to intrigue Eastern Conference teams – especially the Philadelphia Flyers, a team that can’t expect Chris Pronger to return from severe post-concussion syndrome.
Moving Bouwmeester could create much-needed cap room for the Flames. His exit could color Feaster’s thinking on his unrestricted free agents (like Olli Jokinen) or possible trade targets (like Pittsburgh Penguins center Jordan Staal).
With the NHL salary cap expected to rise to $70 million, now is the time for Calgary to clear Bouwmeester's massive salary off the books. A proactive move before the draft and the start of free agency could position the Flames for some meaningful change.