Detroit Red Wings: Does Pursuit of Jay Bouwmeester Show Wings Are Desperate?

Steve SilvermanFeatured ColumnistSeptember 24, 2012

The Red Wings may pursue Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester at the end of the lockout.
The Red Wings may pursue Calgary defenseman Jay Bouwmeester at the end of the lockout.Doug Pensinger/Getty Images

The Detroit Red Wings know they have to do something once (if) this infernal work stoppage comes to an end.

They know they can't go into the 2012-13 season with the current crop of defensemen.

The Red Wings have been an upper-echelon team in the NHL for nearly 20 years and if they want to remain at or near the top of the heap, they need greater talent and depth on defense.

General manager Ken Holland knew his team was going to have to do something to step up shortly after the Red Wings lost their first-round series to the Nashville Predators.

While that loss was somewhat surprising given the status of the two teams, it was nowhere near as painful as the announcement that followed shortly thereafter.

Future Hall of Fame defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom decided to hang up his skates and retire. Possibly the second-best defenseman in NHL history after Bobby Orr, there is no replacing a Lidstrom.

However, Holland and head coach Mike Babcock both know the Red Wings need to make some upgrade over what is currently on the roster. The current defensemen on the Detroit roster include Niklas Kronwall, Jonathan Ericsson, Ian White, Kyle Quincey, Jakub Kindl and Brendan Smith, according to

The idea that Jay Bouwmeester is good enough to step up and become a viable member of the Red Wing defense is a major reach (source: Bouwmeester appears to have lost something from his game since he was last selected as an All-Star in 2009. He also made an appearance in that game in 2007.

Bouwmeester, currently sitting on the roster of the non-playoff-contending Calgary Flames, is considered expendable by his current employers.

If that's the case, then why do the Red Wings think he is going to help them?

Of course, Bouwmeester was not the Red Wings' first choice. Once Lidstrom made his announcement, the Red Wings wanted to bring Ryan Suter into the fold.

The former Nashville Predators star was the best free-agent defenseman on the free-agent market, and putting him into Lidstrom's slot would have made the retirement a little bit easier to take.

However, Suter decided to join free-agent forward Zach Parise, and the two big names both signed with the Wild.

Minnesota is expecting to take a big step up in the Western Conference and may even become a playoff team.

Bouwmeester has a veteran's know-how and could be a decent addition to the power play.

However, he struggles to contribute on the defensive end. He was minus-21 last season and he has had five straight seasons with a negative plus-minus ratio. He hasn't had a positive number since the 2006-07 season, when he was plus-23 with the Florida Panthers.

Bouwmeester was a solid offensive force when he scored 42 goals from 2006-07 through the 2008-09 season. However, his scoring touch seems to have vanished, because he has only scored 12 goals in the ensuing three seasons.

Bouwmeester would not come cheaply, either. He is scheduled to make $6.68 million in each of the next two seasons, according to

The Flames have decided that they would be willing to part with Bouwmeester because they acquired defenseman Dennis Wideman from the Washington Capitals after the season and then signed him to a multi-year contract.

Wideman is a solid offensive defenseman with ordinary skills in his own end.

The Flames think he's clearly better than Bouwmeester.

Making a move for Bouwmeester once teams start to prepare for the upcoming season reeks of desperation.