On deadline day, no news on Bouwmeester is big news

 

 
 
 
 
Despite plenty of speculation prior to the trade deadline, Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester stayed put.
 

Despite plenty of speculation prior to the trade deadline, Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester stayed put.

Photograph by: Nick Laham, Getty Images

EDMONTON — On a day when 47 National Hockey League players changed addresses, the big story was one player who didn’t move.

Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester stayed put because general manager Jacques Martin decided that trading his best player for a package of young players would have been a bad decision.

Martin knows he needs one of the NHL’s best defencemen for the team to reach the playoffs for the first time in seven years.

The Philadelphia Flyers and Vancouver Canucks were said to be the hottest pursuers of Bouwmeester.

“They were legitimate offers, but offers that didn’t fulfil our needs,” said Martin. “I wanted two players in return, one a defenceman who could play in our top four. Some teams thought their defencemen could do that.

“Obviously, I didn’t,” added Martin, who listened to plenty of pitches.

Martin said the most important thing for his club now is to make the playoffs, something the Panthers haven’t done since 2000.

He said he would negotiate with Bouwmeester after the season ends.

“That’s common sense,” said Martin.

Bouwmeester’s Edmonton-based agent, Bryon Baltimore, who had been negotiating a new deal for months reportedly in the $6.5-million to $7-million a year range, said his client took the news with the same even-keel level that he plays the game.

“I wouldn’t say Jay was relieved. His attitude was whatever happens, happens,” said Baltimore.

“If you’re in Florida, it would be very hard to trade Bouwmeester now . . . what do you tell the players and the fans?” asked Calgary Flames GM Darryl Sutter. “Jay’s a really good player. I’ve watched him so much more this year. He’s on top of everything and seems to be enjoying it.”

“It would have been a big blow to lose Jay,” said Keith Ballard, the Panthers’ second-best defenceman.

The Panthers added a defenceman at the trade deadline, picking up Steve Eminger from the Tampa Lightning. Eminger played for Panthers coach Peter DeBoer in the junior ranks, with the Kitchener Rangers of the Ontario Hockey League.

Baltimore reiterated he didn’t get a single call from another NHL team GM to see if they could talk about a new contract for the potential unrestricted free agent defenceman.

“I have no idea what (Florida’s) mindset was,” said Baltimore.

There’s a very good chance the Panthers will trade Bouwmeester’s rights for some draft picks or players a few days before the free-agent doors swing open on July 1. This would give another team 48 hours to try to work out a deal with the 25-year-old Edmonton native — just as the Pittsburgh Penguins did last summer with winger Ryan Malone before he signed in Tampa Bay.

Edmonton Journal

jmatheson@thejournal.canwest.com

 
 
 
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Despite plenty of speculation prior to the trade deadline, Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester stayed put.
 

Despite plenty of speculation prior to the trade deadline, Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester stayed put.

Photograph by: Nick Laham, Getty Images

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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