The reason Jay Bouwmeester is struggling offensively this season is because he’s really not that good of an offensive defenceman.

Don’t mistake me: Bouwmeester’s a very good player and a solid two-way defenceman, a guy I’d love to have on my team as a NHL general manager. But, like a cadre of other players, his offensive numbers have been inflated to larger than life proportions by years of playing in the Southeast division.

Season GP G A PTS +/-
2008-09 24 6 11 17 -3
2007-08 32 7 10 17 -9
2006-07 32 6 16 22 10
2005-06 32 5 14 19 10
Totals: 120 24 51 75 8
Average: 82 16 35 51 5

The chart above shows Bouwmeester’s offensive totals against Southeast Division teams since the NHL lockout. As we can see, against these teams his offence ranks with the better defencemen in the league – 50 point seasons are nothing to sneeze at. Against the rest of the league, however, it’s a different story:

Season GP G A PTS +/-
2008-09 58 9 16 25 1
2007-08 50 8 12 20 4
2006-07 50 6 14 20 13
2005-06 48 3 15 18 5
Totals: 206 26 57 83 23
Average: 82 10 23 33 9

That’s an incredible drop-off. Bouwmeester’s offence drops by nearly a third, and it’s probably worth noting that he still would have played a predominantly Eastern Conference-schedule, which in theory would be easier than the Western Conference schedule he’s playing this year.

None of this is to say Bouwmeester’s a poor defenceman – far from it. He plays incredibly difficult minutes without bleeding goals against, and that has a ton of value. However, while he’s an elite shutdown guy, offensively he probably isn’t a high-end guy, maybe a little above league average.

Unfortunately for Calgary, all of this could mean that Bouwmeester’s slump isn’t just a slump, but rather a precursor of the next four years.