Jay Bouwmeester Signed by Calgary Flames

Patrick QuarryContributor IJune 30, 2009

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 15: Jay Bouwmeester #9 of the Florida Panthers skates against the Washington Capitals on February 15, 2009 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Jay Bouwmeester, possibly the most sought-after defenseman in free agency, has been signed by the Calgary Flames.

The Flames acquired the rights to Bouwmeester in a Draft Day trade, sending Jordan Leopold's rights and a third-round pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft last Saturday to the Florida Panthers.

Before the trade, many teams were expected to compete, or pay, for the 25-year-old's services. The Flames, by acquiring Bouwmeester, were allowed to try to sign a deal before free agency started on Wednesday at noon.

The deal is reportedly worth an average annual salary of $6.6 million dollars over five years. Official terms have not yet been disclosed.

Bouwmeester will also stay closer to home, as he is an Edmonton native. Many believed Bouwmeester was going to test the free-agent market and not sign with the team who held his rights.

Many were proved wrong.

"I was encouraged by the commitment Calgary showed by acquiring me prior to Jul. 1," Bouwmeester admitted. "I'm 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."

He has played his entire career in Florida, notching 15 goals and 42 points in all of last season's games.