Two names that have been regularly linked to the Philadelphia Flyers in trade talks are defensemen Dustin Byfuglien and Jay Bouwmeester. Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun is the latest reporter to address the rumors.
Flyers fans are probably most familiar with Byfuglien from his days with the Chicago Blackhawks, when he was used as a forward against the Flyers in the Stanley Cup Finals. He’s always been a defensemen first, though, and has been very good with the Winnipeg Jets.
The Jets have now won five of their last six games, leapfrogging the Carolina Hurricanes as the top team in the Southeast Division. I doubt he would be moved at this point, considering how vital he is to the team and how well they’ve been playing. It would take a monumental slide in the standings to see a trade happen this season.
I also don’t think he’d be moved in the offseason, unless the offer was that substantial. While the Jets aren’t a team that pays up to the cap, they have a lot of space next season such that retaining him isn’t an issue. Without Byfuglien, their core is just Tobias Enstrom, Zach Bogosian, Ron Hainsey and Mark Stuart.
Jay Bouwmeester, on the other hand, seems like a prime candidate for trade deadline material.
The Calgary Flames are sitting in 13th place in the Western Conference with 26 points (one point behind the Flyers). While the Flyers are ranked an unimpressive 24th in goals-against-per-game, the Flames are even worse at 28th place.
Bouwmeester is an interesting player. In each of the last three seasons, he’s been used as a top pairing defenseman taking on the toughest competition. His average time-on-ice has never dipped below 25:00 (it’s 25:18 over his whole career), and he’s typically utilized on the ice for more defensive zone draws than in the offensive zone (i.e., he isn’t getting sheltered minutes).
For the Flyers, he would fill their needs as a puck moving defenseman. He averaged 41.75 points per season when he was with the Florida Panthers, with that production dropping to 27.3 points per season with the Flames.
Best of all? He hasn’t missed a single game in the last eight seasons. For a team regularly hampered by injuries, having a player with that kind of track record is key.
With all that said, Bouwmeester hasn’t been all that “great” in the role he’s been put in. Many fans balked at the contract that Matt Carle was extended by the Tampa Bay Lightning, but Carle put up better production, faced the same level of competition, and had a comparable iron man record in terms of consecutive games played over the last few seasons.
The real question, then, is the asking price. The Flyers aren’t the only team interested in Bouwmeester, but it helps that they’re in another conference. Last August, it was reported that the Detroit Red Wings were interested in Bouwmeester as well, with the asking price being along the lines of forward Justin Abdelkader and a first round pick (according to The Hockey Guys).
Undoubtedly, the asking price for the Flyers includes one of their young forwards- Brayden Schenn, Sean Couturier or Matt Read. If any of those three are moved for Bouwmeester, though, it would be a mistake. The potential of Schenn and Couturier, along with the versatility of Read, are worth more to this club than JayBo and his $6.68 million cap hit.
If the Flyers can move defenseman Braydon Coburn for Jay Bouwmeester in an even trade, though, it would be advantageous for both clubs. Clearly both defensive cores need a shake-up, and Coburn is two years younger with a more cap friendly contract.
One advanced metric for gauging players is “CorsiRel”, which identifies whether more shots are taken on a team’s goaltender if the player is on the ice than if he is off. Over the last four seasons, Coburn’s “CorsiRel” has measured +7.9, +0.3, -2.0, to finally -9.2.
With Luke Schenn and Nicklas Grossmann on the roster, Coburn’s role is also diminished. He’s a solid all-around defenseman, but he hasn’t excelled in any one particular area.
Acquiring Bouwmeester wouldn’t solve all of their problems, but assuming the Flyers could extend him beyond next season, he would at least be a solid replacement for Kimmo Timonen after his inevitable retirement.