Bouwmeester? Forget it

The belief is if Bouwmeester is dealt to a team like the Senators -- the 6-foot-4 blueliner might...

The belief is if Bouwmeester is dealt to a team like the Senators -- the 6-foot-4 blueliner might be able to reach his offensive potential.(CP PHOTO/Ryan Remiorz)

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 12:48 PM ET

There's plenty of talk that the Senators should acquire Florida Panthers defenceman Jay Bouwmeester this summer.

The whispers and the media reports coming out of the Sunshine State suggest the 24-year-old Bouwmeester is remarkably unhappy with the direction the Panthers organization is taking after captain Olli Jokinen was dealt. The reports say Bouwmeester wouldn't mind being traded.

The belief is if Bouwmeester is dealt to a team like the Senators -- a team with plenty of firepower from the likes of Dany Heatley, Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson -- the 6-foot-4 blueliner might be able to reach his offensive potential.

The Senators have been looking for a puck-moving defenceman, but with $46.9 million of the $56.7-million salary cap committed to next year, the club has to focus on trying to keep restricted free agent blueliner Andrej Meszaros and winger Antoine Vermette. The talk only grew louder when Bouwmeester filed for arbitration at last Saturday's 5 p.m. deadline.

If Bouwmeester doesn't sign a long-term deal with the Panthers before his arbitration hearing later this month and then receives a one-year contract, he'll become a UFA after next season and will almost surely be dealt.

Sources say the Panthers haven't given up hope of signing Bouwmeester and GM Jacques Martin is hopeful the addition of former Kitchener Rangers coach Peter DeBoer will convince the young star the club is going in the right direction.

"As far as I know Bouwmeester is not the guy that Jacques Martin is offering up," said a league executive yesterday. "Bouwmeester is the guy they've got to build that team around. I haven't heard his name being offered around in a trade, not even once."

Instead, the group of blueliners Martin is trying to deal is a lot less attractive to NHL GMs. The indications are anybody can have Florida defenceman Mike Van Ryn, who is scheduled to make $3.35 million the next two seasons, for just a draft pick.

If teams don't want to spend that kind of cash for Van Ryn, then Karlis Skrastins and his $2.4-million contract is also available, as is 30-year-old Ottawa native Cory Murphy, who will make $875,000. After all, the Panthers have 12 defencemen under contract.

Martin is under tremendous pressure to make the playoffs this season. While Martin received a four-year contract extension when he took over the duties as GM, owner Allan Cohen won't be patient forever.

The reality is the last guy Florida wants to move is Bouwmeester. He led the league in ice time last season with an average of 27:28, with a salary of $2.25 million. It's fair to guess he'll get more than $4 million from an arbitrator.

It's nice to dream about Bouwmeester, who had 15 goals and 22 assists last season, in a Senators uniform ... but it's just wishful thinking.

Off the glass

The NHL is expected to announce the 2008/09 schedule in the next few days. It's believed the league will also confirm a Jan. 1 game at Wrigley Field in Chicago between the Red Wings and Hawks ... The Senators held brief discussions with C Jason Williams, but are studying other options for a Top 6 forward.


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