It is pretty apparent that the Red Wings have holes on their defense. After Nick Lidstrom and Brad Stuart left town, the Wings were unable to find anyone willing to join the defensive corps and help out poor Jimmy Howard.
They were rumored to be looking at simply promoting from within despite what many analyst and people with at least some hockey knowledge knew was a weak group to move up.
Brendan Smith has potential to be a very good defenseman but at this point the Wings would be counting on him for 18+ minutes per night when they aren’t even sure if he is NHL ready yet.
I suggested a few weeks ago that the Wings take a look at Calgary’s Jay Bouwmeester and according to MLive.com, they are interested and kicking the tires on the much maligned defenseman.
Those of you who are unaware of Mr. Bouwmeester’s reputation, allow me to catch you up. Bouwmeester is an offensive, puck moving defenseman that has struggled at moving the puck forward much. He was signed to a very large and ugly (from a team standpoint) contract a few years ago and has a $6.6MM cap hit, which means he should be winning Norris Trophies.
However, instead of even being considered for a Norris, Bouwmeester has NEVER PLAYED IN A PLAYOFF GAME. 717 NHL regular season games, 0 playoff games. Some of this is because he has played for only the Panthers and Flames, but it is still a bit of a concern.
Boumeester also held a -9.38 Corsi ON rating last year. What that means is that during 60 minutes of play, the opposing team generate almost 10 more shots towards his goal, than his own team during his ice time. To put this statistic in perspective, last year Alec Martinez of the LA Kings led NHL Defenseman (more than 50 games played) in Corsi ON at 25.28. Nick Lidstrom led the Wings at 15.24.
This means that the difference between Nick Lidstrom and Jay Bouwmeester was almost 25 shots (shots on goal + missed shots + blocked shots) per 60 minutes of play. For the same amount of money.
So, after I claimed to suggest the Red Wings investigate acquiring the man, I then describe why he is no good. Now I’m going to describe why the Wings should, in fact, try to obtain him.
Despite the high cap hit, the Red Wings still have over $21MM in cap room and need bodies on defense and Bouwmeester’s contract is only for two more years, so there is not a long term commitment.
Bouwmeester played on some terrible teams in his NHL career, including the Flames last year. That attributes to his low Corsi ON rating (if you have crappy forwards that can’t move the play when your on the ice, it will hurt you too). Bouwmeester will not be expected to be the top defender in Detroit and will have better forwards playing in front of him, allowing for his puck moving skills to be better utilized.
For example, Ian White, expected to be the other half of the Wings top pair of defenseman, had a Corsi ON last year of 13.06 while the year before in San Jose had a rating of 2.70. So with forwards like Datsyuk and Zetterberg, outlet passes and play will generally go towards the Wings opponents net, not the other way around.
The Wings have room to take on a over payed, under performing defenseman and after some off season moves, the Flames blue line is crowded and they are tight up against the salary cap. This is the scenario where the Wings can take a bloated contract off the Flames hands for a few AHL prospects that don’t have a lot of potential and find themselves with a useful #4 defenseman in return to help bolster the weak back end.
This is just rumor at this point but I hope Ken Holland makes this move because as this team stands now, the NHL might as well be locked out because the Wings don’t stand a chance at winning the Stanley Cup.