Sunday, March 21, 2010

I liked him a lot better on Florida

You know who I'd like to clash with? Jay Bouwmeeter.

Mano a mano. Bare-knuckle style.

Sure he's got 60 or so pounds on me - and several inches, too - but with my immense amount of pint-up rage and his general ineptitude, foreseeing me savagely Brock Hammer Fisting this punk's face in and knocking him into oblivion suddenly becomes a not so unlikely scenario. Then I'll land 15 more shots when he's out cold.

Bouwmeester has performed underwhelmingly coming into the season as a consensus fifth-round pick. I landed him in the sixth round at pick 79 (R6 P4) in the Roto Arcade Blog League and felt he was tremendous value there. On a per-game scale, he's been outperformed by every pick in that round (Booth, Quick, Hiller, Stastny, Havlat, Burrows, Horton, Kunitz, Chris Mason, Roy, Scott Niedermayer, Bryzgalov, Selanne -- hell, even Boyes and he's endured the most disappointing season of his career).

He was drafted to anchor my blue line, just as he was acquired by Calgary to anchor theirs. I finished the draft with a very capable defense corps (Bouwmeester, Bieksa, McCabe, Jovanovski, Visnovsky). Alongside Dion Phaneuf, I had him for a 17-30-47-80-170 line; an exceptional tier 2 line for a defenseman. If you extrapolate his current numbers through 71 games, though, you get a putrid 3-26-29-54-133 stat line. That takes a backseat to Erik Johnson, Stephane Robidas, Ian White and James Wisniewski (James Wisniewski!) - all of whom were taken in the 10th round or later.

From 2005 through 2009 on the Florida Panthers, Bouwmeester was shockingly consistent. He averaged 12 goals and 29 assists for 41 points, 72 penalty minutes and 182 shots on goal, all while not missing a single game.

So what went wrong? Two factors contributed to his massively sub-standard 2009-2010 campaign. One, he signed a lucrative five-year contract averaging $6.6 million US annually. With that incentive pocketed entering the season he lost his motivation. Second, he was moved from a rebuilding team battling for the eighth seed in the East each season to a contending Western Conference powerhouse who were expected to duke it out with rivals Vancouver for the top spot in the Northwest. That's a lot of responsibility to shoulder in your first year. Though Miikka Kiprusoff has played magically comparable to his stellar 2005-2006 season - while forcing me to eat crow - the Flames only remain in contention for the final seed in the West.

So what do I think about his prospects going into 2010-2011 drafts? He's going to be undervalued. Probably going in the seventh or eighth round (similar to the dropoff Phaneuf experienced after a lackluster year last season) so he'll be affordable. For that price I'm definitely buying. That's a bargain. Still only 26 and loaded with a cannon of a shot, I fully expect Bouwmeester to rebound next year. Perhaps he'll never live up to that 55-point potential but to get a serviceable D1 in the eighth would be a steal.

Back to the Roto Arcade Blog League. We're down to 10 or 11 games remaining on the slate and, as it stands, he's entirely relievable. I claimed top spot this morning but it's the arduous Battle of the Streamers. The top 5 teams are all very much in this thing (and, as I proved in The Roto Arcade Pro-Am with my 15.5 points gained in the final two days of play capturing the title, anything can happen in roto. I've once lost a league because a guy streamed a pitcher on the last day; I didn't, and he made a jump in a pitching category).

Bouwmeester has one point in his last nine games and two in his last 13. In his past 13 games, he's a -10. Over the past month, his anemic 0 goal/1 assist/minus-7/4 PIM/1 PP/11 SOG line is forgettable. I can get better production via the wire and streaming.

Bieksa is another droppable option. But I'm looking at the schedule and the Canucks play back-to-back games on the 23rd and 24th against Edmonton and Anaheim, respectively. I need PIM and the Canucks rank fifth in PIM, the Anaheim Ducks fourth and the Edmonton Oilers 12th, which means I'm in pretty good shape to watch Bieksa tussle with a goon.

Can JB pull it together during the final 10 games when I need him the most? In terms of defensemen he's one of my favorite. Don't let 2009 be the year where you go from G.O.A.T. to goat, Bouwmeester.

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