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As play began Monday night, the St. Louis Blues were not in a playoff seed in the Western Conference.
So Jay Bouwmeester will fit right in.
Bouwmeester, owner of the longest active streak of NHL regular-season games without a playoff appearance, was traded to the Blues on Monday night by the Calgary Flames as part of the steady deconstruction of their roster in an effort to win the draft lottery. Which, like, should have been their plan about three years ago.
St. Louis Blues General Manager Doug Armstrong announced Monday the club has acquired defenseman Jay Bouwmeester from Calgary in exchange for defenseman Mark Cundari, the rights to goaltender Reto Berra and a conditional first round pick in 2013.
“We've been looking to acquire a top left-handed defenseman and Jay represents that and is an elite player in our game,” said Armstrong.
Bouwmeester, 29, has dressed in 33 games for the Flames this season, posting 15 points (six goals, nine assists) and 16 penalty minutes while ranking 13th among all defenseman in time on ice per game (25:09).
Berra was drafted No. 106 overall in the 2006 NHL Draft. He’s a 26-year-old goalie playing for Biel in the Swiss League. Dude can make miracles happen.
According to Pierre LeBrun of ESPN: "Flames also say if Blues miss the playoffs, that 1st round pick in 2013 becomes 4th-rounder this year and a 1st rd in 2014."
This marks the second significant upgrade on defense for the Blues ahead of the deadline.
Jordan Leipold was acquired from the Buffalo Sabres for a second-round pick and a conditional fifth. The hope there was that he would shore up Alex Pietrangelo, who has been inconsistent this season in playing with a few partners.
For all the blather about his contract – Bouwmeester has one more year on his contract with a $6.68 million cap hit – and his lack of playoff experience (to put it lightly), Bouwmeester remains a good puck-moving defenseman who brings offensive from the blue line – something that’s been problematic for the Blues this season.
He's always had a bit of Chris Drury disease: A player defined by his contract, rather than his play on the ice.
But oy vey … that cap hit next season, for the Blues. As St. Louis Game Time opined before the deal went down:
The things is, once the Blues get Bouwmeester, they have to pay him a lot of money in what should be the first year of some hefty new contracts for current players. Kevin Shattenkirk and Alex Pietrangelo are both in their final years of their RFA entry level deals, and will command a paycheck that the Blues will presumably pay. Between those two contracts and Bouwmeester, that's a lot of money to spend on a defense that has the ability to be great but the tendency to be erratic.
In fact, the Blues have six RFAs and six UFAs – the latter group having its share of instant castoffs like Leipold and Wade Redden. The bottom line is that Bouwmeester gives this team a solid group in front of Jaroslav Halak, Brian Elliott and Jake Allen.
And based on how their goaltending has sunk into the abyss this season, the Blues can use all the defense they can get.
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