Jay Day has Flames fired up

WES GILBERTSON

, Last Updated: 8:33 AM ET

For the past six NHL seasons, the Jay Bouwmeester show has been playing almost exclusively on the Sunshine Network.

Mark Giordano was treated to a live performance at the 2008 IIHF World Hockey Championship, and figures his former Team Canada cohort and the Calgary Flames' newest blueliner will be a hit at the Saddledome.

"To get a guy like that on our team, it's really exciting. He's going to be a big impact player," Giordano said last night as news spread the Flames signed the former Florida Panthers star to a five-year, $33-million pact.

"From what I saw at the world championships, and from playing against him in the NHL the little bit that we did, he's a good all-around player and he plays well in both ends," Giordano added.

"He's a great guy and he is a great player, so he's definitely the kind of guy you want on your team."

Flames GM Darryl Sutter must have agreed with that assessment, and last night -- less than four days after coughing up a third-round pick and pending UFA Jordan Leopold to obtain exclusive negotiating rights to the would-be prize of the NHL's free-agent pool -- he sealed the deal.

Bouwmeester's annual salary cap hit averages $6.6 million per season and makes him the fifth highest-paid defenceman in the league. Along with Dion Phaneuf and Robyn Regehr, his presence gives the Flames three Canadian Olympic team candidates on the back end.

"It certainly adds to a very good group of defencemen," said Flames head coach Brent Sutter.

"It has been a good day, let's say that."

Calgary's new bench boss chatted with the 25-year-old Edmontonian last night, and said the excitement goes both ways.

"I just explained to him that I'm happy he's a Calgary Flame, that I'm excited about working with him and I'm glad that everything was able to get worked out," Sutter said. "And he is, too. He's very excited. He's excited to get it over with so he can move on, and he's going to be a very effective player moving forward."

Bouwmeester had 15 goals and 27 assists in 82 games with the Panthers last season. In 471 career outings, he has 53 goals and 150 helpers.

And, according to his new head coach, the stats don't tell the whole story.

"He's a big presence and he can just really play the game," Sutter said. "He's a tremendous skater. He knows how to play in both ends of the ice. He's got a good shot. He can move the puck. He's a very, very intelligent player.

"He's the full package, which is really a great thing to have. He's got it all because he can do it all. He can play. He can log minutes, and he does it because he's a very effective and smart player."

One day after his brother secured an exclusive window to talk salary with the former Medicine Hat Tigers star, Brent Sutter told the Sun signing Bouwmeester would give the Flames one of the best blueline brigades in the league.

Giordano, who teamed with Bouwmeester as an alternate at the world championships last spring in Quebec City and Halifax, is eager to show the rest of the rest of the hockey world Sutter is right.

"I definitely think we have some top, top-quality guys on our back end," Giordano said.

PRESTON TO DUB

Former Flames assistant coach Rich Preston was named head coach and GM of the WHL's Lethbridge Hurricanes yesterday.

WES.GILBERTSON@SUNMEDIA.CA


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