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.

Comments (14)

  1. Excellent work.

    I do believe that some defensive-minded guys do start to post better numbers in their mid to late 20s, (Souray comes to mind, Pronger, too), so maybe Bouwmeester will still pick it up.

    But your point still stands.

  2. Good stuff, Jonathan. You can add that the Flames defensive, workmanlike style and lack of PP time contribute

  3. He is also on pace to see his PP TOI fall big time from 326 minutes in Florida last season to 257 this season, that’s pretty big decline in PP ice time–which is where D tend to rack up their point totals.

  4. 16+35=51, not 61.

  5. Coaltrain: Figures that the one thing I try to do without the aid of a spreadsheet (simple addition) is the one thing I mess up on. Thanks.

  6. The Falconer: A fine point, and it’s true, but even if the Flames start using him in that role he’s unlikely to consistently record the same numbers he did in Florida, yes?

  7. To add to Falconer’s point – the Flames are lousy on the PP even when they’re on it and, now, can’t even score at ES. There’s a reason Mark Giordano leads Calgary’s defense corps in scoring with just 20 points – there aren’t a lot of 2nd/1st assists to go around.

  8. Of interest – Bouwmeester is on pace to lose between 1/3 and 1/2 of his even-strength offence. Also, wrt power play time, while Bouwmeester is below his average with Florida, last year he set a post-lockout high in power play time.

  9. So what you’re saying is that our love of Colby Armstrong and Stephen Weiss is unwarranted?

  10. Now, could it be that in Calgary he hasn’t adapted yet to the Flames’ style of play? Perhaps, the pressure of the big contract has gotten to him? Maybe even that his defense pair just sucks?

    I don’t really know if the Northwest division this year is that much tougher than the Southeast in the years Jay played there.

    I think Bouwmeester is a fine skater, a very good puck handler, and also has a decent shot. However, he may not be adapted to the Calgary system yet, which, let’s be honest, does not have a lot of offense. His defensive pairing, which, from what I’ve seen, is usually Regher, isn’t exactly a swift stick handler.

    Plus, plus, plus, who said getting a ton of points makes one a good defender? Souray and Campbell are clear examples of quite the opposite.

    I guess it only remains to be seen if your analysis is correct, Jonathan, but I do congratulate you on some great research.

  11. FLACGY: Lots of good stuff there. Offensive ability isn’t the same as being a good defenceman, and Bouwmeester’s better at the latter than the former, IMO.

    Oh, and the Northwest is miles better than the Southeast has been, even this year: http://blogs.thescore.com/nhl/2009/12/31/the-toughest-division-in-hockey/

  12. Not to poop on your parade, but your math is off.

    You added his totals to his season stats in order to get his average. His average stats should be:

    Against the Southeast: GP: 30 G: 6 A: 13 PTS: 19 +/-: 2
    Against everyone else: GP: 52 G: 7 A: 14 PTS: 21 +/-: 6

    This doesn’t really change the end result as he still takes twice as many games against the rest of the league to put up similar points totals to what he gets against Southeast division opponents.

  13. Nevermind, your math’s fine I see what you did.

  14. Also, he spends all his PP time feeding Phanuef one timers, which haven’t been finding the back of the net… hard to get those gravy pp points in this fashion.

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