Sports Outside the Beltway

Florida Panthers trade D Jay Bouwmeester to Calgary

Another sad day for South Florida hockey fans. From ESPN-

The Calgary Flames added Jay Bouwmeester to their already impressive defensive corps — at least for the next four days.

Bouwmeester, who is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on Wednesday, was acquired by Calgary in a trade with the Florida Panthers as the NHL entry draft wrapped up Saturday with the final six rounds at Bell Centre.

Florida acquired Jordan Leopold — also on the verge of free agency — and a third-round pick (67th overall), which the Panthers used to draft right wing Josh Birkholz.

The trade gives Flames general manager Darryl Sutter a window of exclusivity in negotiating a new contract with Bouwmeester and his agent, Bryon Baltimore.

This trade is risky for both teams, since both players are unrestricted free agents. Pierre LeBrun believes Florida made the right move by getting something for Bouwmeester. Maybe so, but as a hardcore Panther fan couldn’t the team have met the price for him to stay in Florida? Bouwmeester is arguably the best defensemen in the NHL and money talks in sports. How many times do we here athletes say they’re going to a great organization when in fact they’re going to a stinker and the only reason to do so is the big salary they’ll get.

Leopold is supposedly all right. The Panthers may have gotten a sleeper in the draft yesterday. Dmitry Kulikov, who played in Quebec last year. ESPN’s analysts were high on this player, something about his playing in Russia’s Continental League made other teams wary of Kulikov. I’m betting Florida doesn’t make the playoffs in 2010.

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