SUN Hockey Pool

Call him 'Meester Big Deal

STEVE MACFARLANE

, Last Updated: 5:25 PM ET

Dan Bouwmeester did a good job hiding any knowledge of the deal that was announced minutes later.

He also did a pretty good job raising a son who has his priorities in order.

Leaving unknown extra dollars on the table, Jay Bouwmeester signed with the Calgary Flames last night for $33 million over five years -- a $6.6-million per-season cap hit.

"I was sworn to secrecy. Sorry," Dan said apologetically from his home in Edmonton when reached minutes after the deal was officially announced.

"I'm happy for him because he's happy. I think he's real comfortable with the situation down there. I know he probably left a little money on the table, but it was probably with teams he wouldn't want to play for.

"I think he looked at the teams he would have wanted to play for, and he knew he wasn't going to get more than ($7 million), or whatever. You can hang on and maybe make some more money, but then you've got to go play in a place you don't want to."

Calgary, evidently, had everything Jay Bouwmeester was looking for.

"I am happy to have this deal done as Calgary was a team I was very interested in playing for," he said in a statement released by the club last night.

"I was encouraged by the commitment Calgary showed by acquiring me prior to July 1. I am familiar with some of the players and believe we have a strong club that is poised to make the next step in becoming a championship club. I look forward to contributing to that success."

More words from the 25-year-old Edmontonian, who would have been one of the hottest free-agent commodities had he not hammered out a deal with the Flames before 10 a.m. today, will come at a press conference scheduled for 2 p.m. this afternoon.

His dad might have stepped on a few of them yesterday, listing some of the reasons he believes Jay chose to reward the Flames and GM Darryl Sutter after they dealt a third-round pick and pending unrestricted free agent Jordan Leopold Saturday morning to the Florida Panthers to lock up exclusive negotiating rights until the UFA market opened this morning.

None of them the juicy ones everyone has been reading and believing on the Internet, though.

He's not building a house in Calgary.

His girlfriend is from Edmonton -- although she's studying here for another year.

But there's plenty to like.

"There's a lot of positives -- He's a Canadian kid. He's an Alberta kid. He's playing in his own backyard," Dan said.

"He loves playing at the Saddledome. When he was with the (WHL Medicine Hat) Tigers, for some reason, the Saddledome was the best place for him to play. He just seems to always play good there, so hopefully he can play that good as a Flame."

Sutter is counting on it.

That's why he was willing to shell out $100,000 more on average per season than he's paying another defenceman, Dion Phaneuf.

Along with Robyn Regehr, the minute-eating trio will form the most feared top half of a back-end in the league.

Regehr is one of the toughest defensive-minded blueliners in the league.

Phaneuf excels in the offensive part of the game.

Bouwmeester combines some of the best parts of both.

"Jay is one of the most complete defenceman in the game, and we are very pleased to have reached an agreement that will make him an important component of the Calgary Flames success," Sutter said in the release.

The move leaves the Flames with about $5 million in cap space, and all but assures Sutter will stay away from high-profile additions today and in the coming weeks of free agency.

"We identified Jay as the priority player where we were going to focus our money," Sutter said. "We wanted an opportunity a few days in advance of the deadline, and that's why we made the move we did this past weekend."

The risk was well worth the reward.

STEVE.MACFARLANE@SUNMEDIA.CA

RICH D-MEN

Blueliner Avg. Cap Hit

Chara $7.5M

Lidstrom $7.45M

Campbell $7.14M

Boyle $6.667M

Bouwmeester $6.6M

Phaneuf $6.5M

Jovanovski $6.5M

Redden $6.5M

Timonen $6.333M

Pronger $6.25M

Rafalski $6M

McCabe $5.75M

Markov $5.75M

Visnovski $5.6M

Hamrlik $5.5M

Souray $5.4M

Green $5.25M

Rozsival $5M

Gonchar $5M


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