Flames win Bouwmeester sweepstakes; for now

The Calgary Flames have acquired the negotiating rights for Jay Bouwmeester in a trade during today's NHL Entry Draft. The Flames gave up the rights to defenseman Jordan Leopold and a third round pick which became Josh Birkholz after the Panthers drafted him 67th overall. Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter now has five days to try to sign the most sought-after defenseman in this year's free agency pool before the rest of the league has a chance at him.

Bouwmeester had 15 goals and 27 assists for the Florida Panthers last season, and is expected to earn somewhere in the neighbourhood of $7 million next season. The Flames already have $47.417 million committed to the cap for next season, which means that should they sign Bouwmeester there will be very little room to maneuver should Sutter want to sign any additional players. This also means that Todd Bertuzzi, Adrian Aucoin, and Mike Cammalleri are probably on their way out of Cow Town.

Should Bouwmeester sign with the Flames, Calgary would undoubtably have one of the best defensive cores in the NHL. Having an all-star defenseman join a team that already features Dion Phaneuf, Robyn Regehr, and Mikka Kiprusoff will certainly cause frustration for both the Northwest Division and the Western Conference.

And to those who think that giving up players just to talk to Bouwmeester was a mistake, think again. Jordan Leopold was going to become an unrestricted free-agent on July 1st anyway, and the third round pick was acquired in yesterday's first round draft after the Flames traded their 20th pick to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for the 23rd pick and that 3rd rounder.


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