Last night the National Hockey League staged its All-Star Game in Montreal, and by tomorrow everyone will have forgotten that East beat West -- or was it the other way around? All-Star games are remembered by individual performances, not final scores. A big winner: Florida Panthers defenseman Jay Bouwmeester, who put an offensive show, notching two assists and the goal you can see below:
The team's lone all-star, Bouwmeester will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end, meaning that if the Panthers can't trade him before the March 4 deadline, the team could lose him for nothin'. That's why he's rumored to be on the trading block.
After the whole league watched him score three points and finish third in the fastest skating competition, the asking price has gone up. For the Panthers, that either means they'll get better players in exchange for Bouwmeester, or that they'll have to dig deeper to sign him to a new contract.
I talked with Bouwmeester and his father at the beginning of this season, and unless there's been a drastic change in the last few months, I'd bet on a trade. The Panthers have never made the playoffs with Bouwmeester, and he wants that more than money.
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The Panthers, who are currently one point out of the playoff picture in the Eastern Conference, would improve their chances of signing Bouwmeester if they make the post-season. But I don't think even that will be enough. Bouwmeester seems to miss the intensity that comes from playing in front of the kind of packed houses you get in true hockey markets.