Jay Bouwmeester traded to St. Louis

Jonathan Willis
April 01 2013 07:18PM

Photo: Resolute Wikimedia

According to multiple media reports, the Calgary Flames have sent veteran defenceman Jay Bouwmeester to the St. Louis Blues. Coming back is a conditional first round draft pick, as well as prospects Mark Cundari and Reto Berra.

The Return

The conditional first round draft choice. As per James Mirtle, the first round pick will be a 2013 selection if St. Louis makes the playoffs this season, and a 2014 pick if the Blues fail to make the playoffs. Should the first round pick be deferred to 2014, Calgary will also receive the Blues' fourth-round selection in 2013.

Mark Cundari. The soon to be 23-year old Cundari was never drafted, but plays a well-rounded game - he has ability with the puck, doesn't back down physically, and is strong positionally. The problem is that he's undersized for the position, listed at 5'10", 210 pounds. He's a decent prospect, but hardly a blue-chipper. The good news is that he's good enough to play regularly in the AHL right now.

Reto Berra. A fourth-round draft pick in 2006. Berra is likely best-known in North America for his work representing Switzerland at the World Juniors (he also played at the 2012 World Championships). He's spent the last few seasons in the top Swiss league, posting mediocre numbers (he has a 0.906 save percentage this season). The good news is that he's interested in coming to North America; the bad news is that based on his work overseas he may not have much of an impact.  

It's a very similar package to what the Flames received for Jarome Iginla: a first round draft pick and a pair of middling prospects that will fill depth roles but cannot be regarded as high-end acquisitions.

The Context

Bouwmeester led the Flames in ice-time this season, averaging 25:09 per game; he also led the Flames' blue line in quality of competition and the percentage of shifts started in the defensive zone. Elliotte Friedman tweets that the Blues will assume responsibility for the entirety of Bouwmeester's contract, saving the Flames $6.6 million dollars next season and slightly more ($6.68 million) in cap hit. 

However, on the same day that Buffalo dealt Robyn Regehr - older, not signed for next season, and averaging almost 7:00 less per game - for a pair of second round draft picks, the return for a legitimate top-pairing NHL defenceman like Bouwmeester seems underwhelming. With the additional context of the Douglas Murray trade (again, for two second round picks) days earlier, that feeling is reinforced. 

In the defence of Flames management, Bouwmeester's no-trade clause doubtless limited the number of teams they could negotiate with. Even so, this is clearly a trade that favours St. Louis - in a fight for their playoff lives, they managed to add a top-pairing defenceman for what is likely to be a middling first round pick and two guys they likely won't ever miss. 

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, Sportsnet and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including the Edmonton Journal, Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.