32-Year-Old Defenseman – St. Louis Blues
Jay Bouwmeester Contract Information:
Signed a five-year, $27 million extension with the Blues in August of 2013. The deal will run through the 2018-19 season.
Bouwmeester scored his first goal of the season and added an assist in Wednesday's 6-5 OT win over the Blackhawks.
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RotoWire's Preseason Outlooks
Since joining the Blues during the tail end of the lockout-shortened 2012-13 season, Bouwmeester has combined with the incomparable Alex Pietrangelo to form one of hockey’s top pairings. Though Pietrangelo does the heavy lifting of the two players, Bouwmeester’s no slouch on either end of the ice. In addition to helping stymie shot attempts from the opposition, Bouwmeester continued to see ample involvement offensively last season, finishing with four goals, 33 assists and a plus-26 rating. It’s that last number where Bouwmeester carries his greatest fantasy utility, and the plus-minus should continue to remain strong while the Blues’ roster remains as deep and as talent-laden as any in the league. Bouwmeester further bolsters his value simply by showing up; he hasn’t missed a game due to injury in ten years and averaged just over 24 minutes of ice time per contest last season.
This will be Bouwmeester's first full season in a Blues jersey. St. Louis sent Calgary a first-round pick at the deadline last year to get the slick-skating, former third-overall pick. The well-rounded defenseman immediately fit right in, scoring a goal and adding six assists in 14 regular-season games, and taking the puck-moving pressure off the Blues' other defenders. St. Louis' top-six defensemen are pretty strong, so Bouwmeester should not have to carry the group like he forced to do in Calgary. And he could average about 23 minutes of ice time and put up about 40 points and a plus-30 if the pace he was on last year carries over to this season. There's finally good fantasy value for JBo this season.
Bouwmeester caught a lot of flak in 2011-12 from the Calgary faithful for a lack of scoring and a minus-21 rating, especially since he’s earning $6.6 million a year. After averaging around 10 goals and 40 points with Florida before coming to Calgary, Bouwmeester has not eclipsed five goals or 29 points. He’s a decent defenseman, but his scoring ability has certainly taken a hit since arriving in Calgary. Expect single digits in goals and 25-30 points from him in 2012-13.
No active player has played more regular-season games without making it to the playoffs than Bouwmeester (635), who has only played for the Panthers and Flames in eight years of service time in the NHL. Making matters worse, the workhorse defenseman has had two consecutive disappointing seasons in Calgary, failing to reach the 30-point mark in each campaign, including career-lows in goals, with three and four scores respectively, in the past two seasons. Bouwmeester has not averaged 32 points a year by fluke, but it's clear that his fantasy stock is pointing downward.
Bouwmeester was among the biggest disappointments in all of hockey last season, posting just 29 points (and only three goals) in his first year with the Flames. As with other disappointing players on the Flames, the defense-first system has a lot to blame. Bouwmeester shot the puck on net only 130 times after averaging nearly 180 shots the last three seasons. Once it got on net, good things didn't follow, as Bouwmeester's shooting percentage was an unbelievably low 2.3%. Though he'll have to hold off the improving Mark Giordano to be the Flames' top point-man on the power play, Bouwmeester is probably as good of a turnaround candidate as anyone in the game, even if he doesn't achieve the 50-point upside many thought he once had.
Bouwmeester winds up in Calgary after spending the first six years of his NHL career with the Florida Panthers. This is an obvious upgrade for him and it should reflect directly in his production. He managed 42 points (15 G, 27 A) last year. Those numbers should be his floor this season with the 50-point plateau being a reasonable goal. Expect his ice time to go down but that isn't necessarily a bad thing. He will not have to carry the Flames on his back like he had done for so long with the Panthers. Look for Bouwmeester to have a career year in his new home.
Forty-point defensemen will have always have a fantasy home, thus Bouwmeester will always be roto relevant. The Panthers need him to be a 30-minute monster to anchor their zone — and it appears he can’t do that while putting up much more than 40 points at the same time.
The team continues to lean on Bouwmeester to anchor the defensive zone a little more each season — now to the tune of 25-28 minutes per game. By scoring 12 goals last season, Bouwmeester nearly matched his career totals from his previous three NHL seasons, but beware of overhyping those numbers. His assist and point totals dipped a bit, too. So while another 40-point season is certainly feasible, expecting a breakthrough 20 goals and 55 points is actually fairly unlikely.
What a bargain Bouwmeester will be in your fantasy league. He very quietly put up 46 points last season, because only five of them were goals. As he has steadied himself as the Panthers' best blueliner, his offensive upside will continue to blossom. He should be good for about 10/50/60 this season.
Perhaps one of the best-looking young defenseman in the game, look for Bouwmeester to continue to log a lot of minutes and put up solid numbers. If you can stomach a poor plus/minus rating, he's a real fantasy asset.