(Photo Credit: Tom Gannam / Associated Press)
In his six seasons with the Blues (356 regular season games), Jay Bouwmeester has averaged an impressive 0.26 PIM per game. He’s actually sported the note for a total of 8,115 (regular season) minutes. Bouw, however, has managed to spend just 212 minutes in the box while averaging just over 22 minutes on ice per game.
Yeah, we’re all aware, Jay doesn’t throw his weight around very much as it is, and we shouldn’t expect that to change. That’s not his approach to the game. It never really has been. After an injury and surgery, we should expect more cautious play. Heck, in nearly ten years, Bouwmeester hasn’t registered a hundred hits in a season. That’s no shot at Jay. There are different kinds of players. He’s a deep thinker that makes smart decisions. You need those guys just as much as you need a heavy hitter. Well, Bouwmeester isn’t going to be laying anyone out. That’s where his potential partner comes in, and it’s all about balance.
At this point in Jay Bouwmeester’s career, it’s less ice time and less threatening opposition that is going to be key. A decreased role should surely be in store when we consider what Joel Edmundson and Vince Dunn bring to the table on that left side. Many suggest there’s simply no reason to put 35-year-old Bouwmeester with Pietrangelo or Parayko unless key injuries occur (I literally just knocked on wood).
It’s floating around the fanbase that Jay just doesn’t have much left in the tank anymore, but some are convinced he’ll be just fine. He’s just not a top defenseman for the Blues these days. There are too many miles on the motor, and it’s not a Honda. Is he still valuable on this team? Yes, of course, he is. In fact, he may be one half of a very good 3rd pairing.
Dunn and Eddie have earned their places in the eyes of Blues fans, and that’s nothing against Bouwmeester either. Truthfully, if and/or when Mike Yeo decides to throw Jay into the big mix of things (It’s an 82 game season), he may demote a guy like Vince Dunn to the third pairing which won’t sit well with many. Dunn has become a fan favorite, and most hold the opinion that it’s his time now.
Right now, Vince deserves a legitimate shot at progress. He’s capable of putting up better numbers than he did last year and many believe he will, without a doubt, but only if he isn’t stripped of his opportunity to do so. With that being said, there comes a time when a Coach must have an aging player take a step back and allow the youth to grow in their roles.
Does that mean we don’t believe in Bouwmeester?
No, but all things considered, the 3rd pairing is just where Jay belongs now.
First of all, I don’t think anyone has to convince us that Eddie is Petro’s partner. Also, consider that Vince Dunn is a young, growing player. Do you want to see him lose the ice-time that he has worked very hard to earn? He deserves to jump back on his horse and pick up from right where he left off, right? He is Parayko’s partner, and it should stay that way, right? Blues fans are expecting great things from the both of them.
Now, for Bouw’s partner. I’ve mentioned it before. Do you think Robert Bortuzzo is the correct defenseman to partner with Bouwmeester? Bortz is an aggressive player that can handle his own end well. Bouwmeester can benefit from having a fearless partner. Also, any defenseman on this team can learn a few things from Jay. Do you feel Bortz, in particular, might benefit the most from having some of Jay’s play rub off on him? I do.
Let’s clarify. We are not undervaluing Jay Bouwmeester by any means. We’re simply prioritizing by putting proven, young, healthy skill at the core of the Blues defense. We’ve highlighted that there are a few candidates that are better options for the top jobs. Bouwmeester can be a very solid 3rd pairing defenseman. Jay’s had the top jobs handed to him for years (well deserved). It’s time to pass the torch now. It will be interesting to see how well Jay Bouwmeester handles these late stages of his career. I’m in his corner and want the best for him, but I’ve also got the big picture in mind.
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