Bouwmeester's expiring contract traded to Calgary; Mike Keenan running the Flames in absentia?

All things considered, we could have written the following a year ago, waiting until this morning to fill in the blanks:

The Florida Panthers today traded impending RFA unrestricted free agent Jay Bouwmeester to the ________ _______ in return for ________ _________ .

After exhausting their options with the all-star defenseman, Panthers general manager ___________ __________ said in a statement he was "relieved" to have completed the deal, bringing some closure to the year-long Bouwmeester saga, though he cautioned it had most definitely not become a distraction. "No way," _________ said. "Our room is lined with professionals. It's part of the business."

Asked about newly acquired _________ , __________ elaborated on the type of player he will be. "__________ was a fan-favorite in __________, and for good reason. His _________ skills only complement his leadership and effectiveness on and off the ice. He's a locker room voice.

In fact, he previously played alongside our own _________ _________ some years ago. When we asked him for his thoughts on __________, he was ecstatic. Heck, they played golf just last week." On Bouwmeester, the GM was remaining light with details. "We had a good run, and hopefully both of our futures are brighter. We wish him well in ________."

Well, at least it's finally over. The deed has been done, and I for one am rather pleased. Even if UFA Jordan Leopold doesn't sign (he will), the pick morphed into a nice forward prospect in Josh Birkholz. No, he's not a top-ten choice, but we'll see what develops. Something for nothing. Ship has sailed. I can't see how this could have been taken advantage of in any better way. The clock was ticking down to Wednesday.

Lots more after the intergalactic stargate jump...

Let's see what's being said around the league in this very special edition of Links-of-Wonder (on that note, weren't you immediately turned off when your favorite show's next episode was promo'd as "A very special _______?" Like, "This week, on a very special Three's Company..."?). Digressing.

Jay has "mixed feelings" following trade. We'll let GR masterfully take that one over.

Stee Gorten corrals Randy Sexton for his thoughts on the deal. "When it became apparent we couldn’t sign Jay, we wanted something of value. We worked very hard over the last two weeks to put together a deal." Read: frantic.

Wyshynski finds signing Bouwmeester to a contract may be a bit more difficult than the Flames' may have anticipated.

Oh, and then there's that little salary cap issue, says Mirtle.

Excitement is understandably muted at Matchsticks and Gasoline. Why? They know the score.

Allan Muir finds the "challenge" of keeping Jay is not insurmountable. Except for that darned "We'll sign nothing before July 1st" proclamation.

Spector likes what Florida has done with the opportunity, and the pressure is now squarely on the Flames.

Closer to home, Cat Scratch is philosophical about today's news: "If Keaton Ellerby, Jason Garrison, or Dmitri Kulikov mature in time... Bouwmeester might not be missed too badly." Amen to that.

Call Illegal Curve's David impressed with what the Cats got in return.

More Calgary salary cap talk from The Globe and Mail's Duhatschek and Wharnsby. "At some point, the Flames will need to move out salary, or face the same issues that they did down the stretch last year, when they played up to three men short some games, because they couldn’t fit 18 position players onto their game-night line-up and stay compliant with the salary cap." Okaaaay...

A roundtable at THN discusses a few items from today. Yes, this one.

Craig Custance is of the mindset that considering the individual situations, both parties did well.

Some nice work by Pierre LeBrun, whonails the reality of the deal for Florida, even if Leopold decides to go all UFA: "A 2009 third-round pick may not sound too sexy to the average hockey fan, but half a dozen other GMs we spoke to Saturday saluted (Randy) Sexton for getting a tangible asset." But even better - and we here at The Box fully agree:

"Randy Sexton deserves to have the interim tag dropped from his GM title after the move he pulled off this weekend at the NHL draft."

Let's hear it from ya, Panther fans.

Ten-cent question of the day: Your opinion on The Deal:

Good...gonna lose him anyway; who knows what Birkholz may bring?47
Bad...I'll never get over not dealing him at the deadline!10
Indifferent...been "over" this subject for a long time11