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Finding Positives In The Lance Bouma Contract

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No, we don't believe it's a good deal for the Flames. Yes, he is a good player for a certain role on the team. Is he worth it? That's up to Bouma himself to prove.

Sergei Belski-USA TODAY Sports

There have been two extreme reactions to Lance Bouma's new contract. There's the "heartbeat, warrior" line that says $2.2m is a good price for him, and there's the other, stat-based line that says the Flames have overpaid.

We've heard a lot in the past 24 hours about intangibles and character, as well as possession stats and above-average shot percentages. Let's see if we can find some positive stats to back up why he's been given this deal.

Energy And Character

You often hear that players who won't have elite level stats have those things you can't measure - intensity, heartbeat, charisma, character. However, there are stats that do show these intangibles in numbers.

Energy players, the "heart on their sleeve" types, are often the ones with the higher penalty minutes. Bouma, on the other hand, drew seven more penalties than he took in the regular 2014/15 season. That shows an intelligence to his play that your more conventional gritty players have lacked in the past, and while that might suggest he doesn't play with as much intensity as some of those old-style enforcers, we all know that's rubbish.

With 270 hits thrown throughout his 80 regular and post-season games, added to 85 blocked shots - the media's favourite stat - it could be argued that Bouma plays at a higher rate than other players of his ilk. For example, in Tim Jackman's last full-length season in Calgary (2011/12) he only threw 160 hits and blocked 48 shots.

While we're not advocates of blocked shots being a reason to keep someone around, it's easy to see the contribution that Bouma brings to the side, certainly over a Jackman or a Brian McGrattan (82 hits, 23 blocked shots in 13/14) type player.

Furthermore, there's a lot to be said for the character of Bouma. Regardless of how many hits he threw, how many times he put his body in the way of a puck, last year he was given a one-year deal to prove his worth, and that showed in the way he played. He made himself important to the side - at least to Bob Hartley - and he's to be commended for that.

The problem here is that you don't want your second line winger putting these kinds of numbers up - it's good, but it's certainly more of a role you'd expect a third or fourth line winger to play. You want your second line providing more scoring to the team.

Production

Yes, career year. Yes, may never be replicated. No, he probably shouldn't be the second line left-winger for the future. But, you can't ignore the year Bouma has had. His abnormal shot percentage may well prove to be a flash in the pan, who's to say he's not going to replicate it, or do something similar?

It certainly helped towards his own personal PDO (on-ice save percentage added to shot percentage) of 102.03. PDO may mostly be a stat based on luck (having a goalie who can make saves, added with your own ability to get the puck in the net), but having a positive one certainly helps the team.

On top of that, as well as the 16 goals he scored, he had 18 assists. If he can continue to provide assists, he'll prove an important teammate to some of the other, more glamorous players.

Possession

In the interest of fairness, you do need to balance the good with the bad. His even-strength Corsi-for of 41.69% is woeful, but he's certainly not the only one on the team who struggles with puck possession. It's an area the whole team needs to work on.

However, Bouma has possession numbers on a par with Brandon Bollig, so he will definitely need to improve in that regard.

In Summary

In this writer's opinion, the Flames have overpaid - but only slightly. Take half a million off, and there's a good deal for the Flames. It's not like he's one of the "must-move" players, in fact I quite like him. The problem is that now the Flames have paid Bouma that for three years, they have now lost that extra half a million dollars they may need next summer (as Ari mentions in the second half of this article).

We'd love, in 12 months time, to be able to say that all these fears were for nothing, that the projections were wrong, and that he's earned that contract and has, if not continued the upwards curve, maintained the level that he managed in 2014/15. He might have to do that without Mikael Backlund (Mike looked at the relationship here), but if he can do that, then that'll be another feather in his cap.

He isn't a second-line winger, but if he continues to improve, he could be. Time to prove the projections wrong, Lance.