Welcome back to the All-Time Every-Panther countdown. For an explanation as to how the list was compiled, click here.
Last week we recapped center Viktor Kozlov (414 games, 101 goals, 190 assists), defenseman Gord Murphy (410 games, 42 goals, 100 assists), right wing Pavel Bure (223 games, 152 goals, 99 assists), and center/wing Nathan Horton (422 games, 142 goals, 153 assists). Later this week, we're going to take a look at a right winger from Montreal, a center from Toronto, and two goalies, one from Czechoslovakia and another from Detroit. As for today, let's kick off this lockout with Jay Bouwmeester, the NHL's current leader in consecutive games played.
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Bouwmeester, a 6'4" defenseman from Edmonton, Alberta, enjoyed four seasons of productive junior hockey with the WHL's Medicine Hat Tigers. After a short appearance in 1998-99 (eight games, two goals, one assist), he played in 64 games in 1999-00 (13 goals, 21 assists), 61 games in 2000-01 (14 goals, 39 assists), and another 61 games in 2001-02 (11 goals, 50 assists). During the 2002 offseason, he was picked up by the Panthers with the third overall pick in the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
2002-03 would see Bouwmeester start out his NHL career with an assist in his very first game, a 4-3 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning on October 10th. Later, he scored a season high two points (one goal, one assist) on February 8th as the Panthers tied the Bolts, 4-4. He was one of three Panthers to play in all 82 games that season. He scored four goals on 110 shots along with 12 assists, ranking second on the blueline with 16 points. He averaged 20:09 per game with only 14 penalty minutes and a historically bad minus-29 rating. Despite that, he was still selected as a member of the 2003 all-rookie team.
Bouwmeester averaged a Panther's second best 23:02 per game, skating in 61 games. He missed several games near the end of the season with a fractured foot, representing the first and last time that he would miss NHL playing time due to an injury. He only scored two goals on 85 shots, assisting on a Panthers fifth best 18 assists. He spent 30 minutes in the penalty box, and a minus-15 rating. On November 7th, he scored a season high two points (one goal, one assist) in a 6-3 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
In 2004-05, Bouwmeester stayed in the Panthers system for the all-season lockout. He split the year in the AHL between the Rampage (64 games, four goals, 13 assists) and the Chicago Wolves (18 games, six goals, three assists). He would enjoy his only professional playoffs to date with 18 games in the Calder Cup Playoffs with the Wolves, as the team advanced to the Finals before losing to the Philadelphia Phantoms.
Bouwmeester returned to the Panthers NHL roster when the lockout was lifted in 2005-06, and was one of three skaters to play in all 82 games. He led the league with 2,746 total shifts, also ranking number nine in the league with a team leading 25:29 TOI per game. He scored five goals on 189 shots with a team second best and blue line leading 41 assists with a plus-1 rating and 79 penalty minutes. He had a season high three points (all assists) in a 5-4 loss to the Columbus Blue Jackets on January 14th. His 46 overall points represented a career high that still stands.
In 2006-07, Bouwmeester had seven multi-point games. He scored three points (one goal, two assists) in a 5-4 loss to the Calgary Flames on January 4th. Just a week later, he put up a career high four points (two goals, two assists) as the Panthers defeated the Washington Capitals, 7-3. His 26:09 ATOI ranked eighth in the NHL and led the Panthers. In total, he led the blue line and established a new career high with 12 goals (on 174 shots) with a defensive corps leading 30 assists. He spent 66 minutes in the penalty box and registered a team leading plus-23 rating. He was also selected to his first all-star team for his efforts.
2007-08 would see Bouwmeester again appear in every Panthers game (82), setting a new career high with a team fourth best 15 goals (on 182 shots), and a team fifth best 22 assists. His 27:28 ATOI led the NHL, as did his total shift count, of 2,548. He had a minus-5 rating and a team fourth most 72 penalty minutes. He posted multi-point games on five occasions through the season.
Panthers LIVE!! Bouwmeester! (via aviator147)
In 2008-09, Bouwmeester continued his ironman streak with another 82 game season, one of two Panthers to turn the trick (along with Keith Ballard). He matched his career high with 15 more goals (on 182 shots), leading Panthers defensemen. He was fifth on the team with 27 assists. He averaged exactly 27 minutes of TOI, again leading the NHL. He spent 68 minutes in the penalty box, finishing with a minus-2 rating. From November 12th to December 14th, he scored 15 points in a 16 game span (six goals, nine assists). In January, he appeared in his second all-star contest. As the season was coming to a close, Bouwmeester made public his desire to leave Florida for greener pastures, per wikipedia.org:
Unable to come to terms with Bouwmeester, the Panthers traded his negotiating rights to the Calgary Flames in exchange for the negotiating rights to defenceman Jordan Leopold and a third round draft pick (Josh Birkholz) in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft. The deal gave the Flames four days with which they had exclusive rights to negotiate with Bouwmeester before he became an unrestricted free agent and gained the ability to negotiate with any team. Hours before that deadline expired, Bouwmeester and the Flames agreed to a five-year, $33 million contract.
Bowmeester has spent the last three seasons with the playoff-free Calgary Flames (246 games, 12 goals, 70 assists). He has managed to continue his ironman streak (now at an NHL leading 508 games), which bears the dubious distinction of being the only such streak to persist (if current negotiations continue to, er, not continue) through two work stoppages.
The consistent knock on Bouwmeester was that he never measured up to what he was hypothetically capable. His offensive numbers, impressive while with the Panthers, only hinted at his potential. Highly skilled as a skater, and as durable as they come, he could at times be accused of "taking a shift off," or "playing soft minutes." Aside from all this, the only thing keeping him from passing Doug Jarvis (964 games) as the NHL's Cal Ripken is the labor situation. If his health holds up, he should set a new record for consecutive games in late-January, 2018.
All-Time Statline: Six seasons, 471 games (ninth all-time), 53 goals, 150 assists (ninth all-time), 203 points, minus-27 rating, 329 penalty minutes, 34.4 APS.
Thanks for reading today's entry in Panthers canon. Check back tomorrow as we look into one of Florida's first heroes, a right wing from Montreal.