Talks on quietly with Jay

STEVE MACFARLANE, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 7:54 PM ET

Darryl Sutter must be doing most of the talking.

Jay Bouwmeester isn't known to offer too much in the way of conversation.

"You can't get a lot of words out of him," Todd Bertuzzi said over the phone from Kitchener, Ont., yesterday. "He'd be a perfect partner to be beside Dion (Phaneuf) in the room."

Maybe on the ice, too.

Bertuzzi can imagine the Muted Monsters racking up minutes for the Calgary Flames if Sutter manages to woo Bouwmeester into a contract after giving up a third-round pick on the weekend for just a few days of exclusive negotiations before the pending unrestricted free agent hits the open market tomorrow at 10 a.m.

Both Jarome Iginla and Robyn Regehr made calls to the Edmonton native before Sutter travelled north up the QEII yesterday for a face-to-face meeting with Bouwmeester and agent Bryon Baltimore.

Baltimore said another meeting will take place today in Edmonton.

"We had some discussions about the overall situation," Baltimore said last night. "I think we have a reasonable understanding of each other.

"We'll see what transpires."

Bertuzzi likely would have made a pitch himself if he knew he'd be returning to Calgary for a second season.

"I think it would be a tremendous place for Jay to play," said Bertuzzi, who only played seven games with Bouwmeester as a member of the Florida Panthers in 2006-07 but got to spend a lot of time with the young blueliner. "I think he's one of those players who has that much more potential in him. Being under the pressure and the microscope of a Canadian city, I think that's something that would bring it all out in him."

The notion Bouwmeester has another level of excellence in him is what makes signing the 25-year-old a massive priority for Sutter and the Flames. If he hits free agency tomorrow, teams will throw ridiculous amounts of dollars his way.

Few may be able to offer the balance the Flames sport, with a winning team and a special environment in addition to a solid amount of money.

"Obviously, he's had some very good seasons and he's a tremendous player. But at the same time, I think being in an environment where it's hockey-important, Jay would be one of those players who'd thrive on that," Bertuzzi said.

With a bit of a resurgence himself in Calgary last season -- a 15-goal, 44-point performance in 66 games -- Bertuzzi is holding onto hope he can don the Flaming C again.

Becoming an unrestricted free agent Wednesday, he has yet to hear from Sutter.

His agent, Pat Morris, spoke with the Flames GM briefly at the draft, but Sutter was already pre-occupied with the Bouwmeester business.

"I know Darryl had a lot on his plate," Bertuzzi said. "I just roll with it now. I'll wait till July 1st and on and see what happens from there, I guess."

If successful in signing Bouwmeester to a lucrative contract -- likely in the Phaneuf range of at least $6.5 million per season -- Sutter might find reason to pick up the phone and talk to Bertuzzi.

The costly addition of the blueliner would count out any big-money additions up front. And while Sutter has said he'll rely on younger players, another million or so for Bertuzzi would give them a proven second-line winger.

And Bertuzzi's not looking for a long-term offer, either.

"I'm quite happy playing one year at a time," said Bertuzzi. "It's no stress on me. If anything, it brings the best out of you to be on a term like that -- at least with me, mentally."

Wanting to play for a contender, the ultimate hope is he and Bouwmeester can be reunited with the Flames.

"He's got a lot of talent. I put him in the top handful in the league -- especially with his style. Any defenceman who can skate like that and move the puck that quick, you want on your team."

FLAMING C-NOTES

Flames GM Darryl Sutter handed qualifying offers to restricted free agents Dustin Boyd and Kris Chucko but didn't give them to fellow forwards Adam Cracknell and Aki Seitsonen, meaning they are free to sign with any club.


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