Is Jay Bouwmeester Really the Answer for the Flyers?

Chris DiFrancescoAnalyst IJune 15, 2009

SUNRISE, FL - FEBRUARY 13: Jay Bouwmeester #4 of the Florida Panthers skates against the New York Rangers on February 13, 2009 at the BankAtlantic Center in Sunrise, Florida. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

This offseason has been very confusing for the Philadelphia Flyers. They signed a troubled goaltender in Ray Emery, who was exiled from the NHL last year, to a one-year contract.

Obviously, Marty Biron is all but gone at this point.

As of last week, the Flyers have come in contact with their former netminder Robert Esche, who has been in Russia for the past two seasons. Antero Niittymaki is still available, but is unlikely to sign to be a backup.

The Flyers will need a backup to Emery; in comes Esche.

Esche won't be let go from his contract unless his team can acquire a suitable replacement.

So, who is the free agent that the Flyers are making room for? That might be Florida Panthers star defenseman Jay Bouwmeester. The whole hockey world has been all over the "JayBo" train, and the Philadelphia Flyers are no exception.

But, all in all, is he really worth the $6 to $8 million a year he's going to demand? I'm not sure at this point.

In the 82 games he played last season, Bouwmeester only posted 27 assists and had a minus-2. Admittedly, the Panthers were not that good of a team, but he averaged over 27 minutes of ice time a game last season.

The Flyers would welcome the 15 goals he put up last season as defense played a large part in the Flyers' first-round exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Now, I'm not sitting here and saying this would be a bad signing. I think the Flyers should definitely go out and be aggressive with Bouwmeester, but don't spend the entire bank on the guy if it means setting the club back a few years with salary cap issues.

Is Bouwmeester the missing piece? Maybe.

Can he instantly come in and help? Yes.

Is he going to be worth a Danny Briere contract, or bigger? That's up for you to decide.

In my own opinion, I'm extremely worried about the possibility of the signing of "JayBo." I like the durability factor, playing full seasons five out of his first six years in the league. Also, I like the fact that he's just now turning 26.

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My main concern lies on the salary cap.

We've seen how much trouble Paul Holmgren had changing the lineup around toward the end of the season, signing guys off the streets to one-day contracts and sending certain guys down so they don't affect the cap when players like Briere return.

The Flyers should be cautiously aggressive during this upcoming free-agent shopping spree, weighing all their options before breaking the bank for one guy, and they should see if they can plug holes with multiple guys who will sign for less.

Overall, I believe the Flyers should take a shot at Jay, if the price is right. The main concern with him is if he truly wants to win. If Bouwmeester really wants to play for a winner and can convince the Flyers that he's worth every cent they're going to offer him, then by all means sign him.

Randy Jones and Andrew Alberts should both be on different teams come September. The top five for the Flyers should look like this: Timonen, Coburn, Parent, Bouwmeester, and Sbisa. Looks pretty good on paper.