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Farm Review: Lance Bouma

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After wrapping up his Junior career as captain of the Vancouver Giants with a career-high 14 goals and 43 points in 57 games, Lance Bouma joined the Abbotsford Heat for part of their post-season run in 2009-10, scoring once in five games. In 2010-11, Bouma appeared in 61 games for the Heat, putting up 12 goals and 20 points, including a team-leading six powerplay goals, before being called up by the Flames in early February. 

Bouma wasn't much of a scorer with the extra man until his final year of Junior, when he put up seven PPG with the Giants in what was his best offensive season. While that trend appears to have continued into his AHL career, another appears to have been reversed, as his +/- tanked this past season from a +8 to a -12; while Abbotsford's roster was stacked with minuses in 2010-11, Bouma was previously known as more of a two-way forward whose strengths lay more in the physical, defensive side of the game. It's nice to see him continuing to contribute offensively in the minors, but I'm curious about to what extent his individual play contributed to his rating versus his circumstances (quality of competition, linemates, etc.), which is difficult to determine at the AHL level. 

In 16 games with the Flames this past season, Bouma appeared in a very limited role, playing just under six minutes a game, all at EV, and in some of the most favourable circumstances of all regular forwards, as I wrote about when he was reassigned to the Heat in April: 

During his 16 games with the Flames, Bouma had one of the easier ZoneStart ratios of all forwards on the club at 58%, although he finished in the offensive zone less than 50% of the time. He had the easiest QualComp and managed a Corsi rate of +11.49/60. The Flames' on-ice EV SV% was pretty good when Bouma and his linemates were on (.925), but their SH% was fairly bleak (4.76), resulting in a PDO of 97.3.

While Bouma had a little bit of bad luck, he was given some peachy opportunities and didn't exactly knock it out of the park; he finished the NHL season with just one assist, nine shots on net, and a -1 rating, and didn't consistently demonstrate superior speed or offensive capabilities. More often than not, what stood out about Bouma to my eye were his 'intangibles;' working hard, blocking shots, taking a hit to make a play, awareness of his and other players' position on the ice, and the like. As a third-round pick, he's not expected to make enormous contributions at the NHL level, but it's difficult to judge his capabilities in an overly positive or negative way due to the fact that he is still a rookie and the sample size is relatively small. Maybe if he gets more than a fifth of a season under his belt in 2011-12 it'll be easier to place his ceiling.