Better late than never — Flames re-sign gritty Lance Bouma
Forward ‘happy it got done’ after signing a one-year, one-way pact
Yes, the summer is nearly over.
But, better late than never, Lance Bouma finally has a new contract with the Calgary Flames.
Wednesday’s one-year, one-way pact for the hard-nosed 24-year-old forward (the dollar value, which, under Brad Treliving’s new management, was not released) is a step up from his three-year entry level deal he signed in 2010-11.
However, it’s enough to challenge the player to continue improving on what he established in 2013-14, his first full season in the National Hockey League.
“We talked about different concepts,” said Treliving, referring to contract structures for their final restricted free agent remaining on their list. “But ultimately, I think this works the best for all of us. It gives us another year to monitor Lance’s growth.
“From Lance’s standpoint, it’s a one-year deal to go out and build upon what he did last year. If he does that, he’s back looking for more a year from now.”
The former Vancouver Giant and Provost, Alta., farm boy had showed considerable improvement last season — a 78-game campaign with the big club where he established himself as a physical presence on the fourth line in front of the net.
In addition to five goals and 10 assists and 41 penalty minutes, Bouma finished tied with Ryan Getzlaf for the second-most blocked shots (89) in the league among forwards.
“Everybody wants more production,” Treliving said. “But to me, it’s taking a step forward in his game. He’s going to be more confident coming into the season with last year under his belt. Now, the challenge is to do more. From a leadership standpoint, grabbing hold of things from Day 1, not just sticking your toe in — diving headfirst in.”
In total, the third-rounder (78th overall) from the 2008 NHL draft has 121 NHL games under his belt.
Bouma spent the summer working in the Tsawwassen area with skills coach Tim Turk who helped him with his scoring touch.
“Obviously, you think about the areas where you can improve,” said the six-foot-one, 210-pounder calling from his off-season post in Vancouver. “Last year was a good year for me, but there’s still room for growth in a lot of areas and that’s something I worked on this summer and I’m going to continue working on during the year as well.
“I think that was important for me this summer to get more confidence with the puck and feeling confident in my shot.”
After a flurry of signings from July 22 to July 25, where the Flames inked Joe Colborne, Joni Ortio, Sam Bennett, and Mark Cundari in that span, it seemed logical that Bouma would be soon to follow.
“I don’t know exactly why it took so long,” he said while on his way to coach against fellow Giants alum and Montreal Canadiens pest Brendan Gallagher Wednesday night in the Giants annual Alumni Intrasquad Game. “Every contract is a little different, every negotiation is a little different.
“But at the same time, I’m happy it was done and I’m not worried how long it took. I’m just happy it got done and I’m excited for the season.”
Now that business is closed on Bouma’s deal, Treliving hinted at searching for depth for the Flames blueline and said they’ve talked to some players about tryouts during training camp.
“We’re going to continue to work at it,” he said. “We still have lots of time. To me, there’s some depth things we’d like to look at.”
Inking free agent Devin Setoguchi over the weekend — a low risk, potentially high reward signing — added another body at right wing, an area the team needs to fill out.
However, a lot of those questions will be answered at camp.
“We’ll play with some different options there,” Treliving said. “With Devin, he plays a position we were a little lean in. I also think there’s an opportunity to real good value with that signing. The last couple years hadn’t gone the way he wanted them to go.
“I think he’s a hungry player right now.”
ICE CHIPS . . . The Adirondack Flames open their inaugural American Hockey League season on the road against the Rochester Americans on Oct. 10 . . . They’ll host the Albany Devils the following night during their home opener at the Glens Falls Civic Center on Oct. 11 . . . The Flames are part of the AHL’s Western Conference and play a 76-game season.
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