When the St. Louis Blues traded a conditional first-round pick, Reto Berra and Mark Cundari for Jay Bouwmeester ahead of the trade deadline last season, it was believed that they were picking up some depth for a run at the Stanley Cup. It was unclear what the team wanted to do with him beyond the end of his contract. That the Blues locked up Bouwmeester to an extension ahead of Alex Pietrangelo speaks volumes to how impressed the team was with the 30-year-old defenseman.
He’d always underwhelmed with the Calgary Flames, and was frequently cited as one of the more overpaid players in the NHL. Bouwmeester is earning every cent of his paycheck right now though, and is surprisingly tied for fourth among top-scoring defensemen.
While the resurgence of Bouwmeester’s game can be partially attributed to playing alongside Pietrangelo, the fact remains that he is currently outscoring the likes of Oliver Ekman-Larsson, Ryan Suter and Drew Doughty. Those are some marquee names to surpass, yet Bouwmeester hasn’t seen his defensive game slip one bit in the name of offense.
He’s ninth among defenseman with a plus-14 rating. With 24 points on the year, Bouwmeester is tied with Dustin Byfuglien, yet the Winnipeg Jets blueliner is carrying a minus-14 rating. The difference there is impossible to ignore, and it’s possible that Bouwmeester has played himself onto Team Canada’s roster with his smooth skating, excellent shot and outstanding defensive instincts.