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Sutter meeting with Bouwmeester

by Peter Zuurbier / Calgary Flames
Calgary Flames General Manager Darryl Sutter is wasting little time in his pursuit of one of the top defensemen in the NHL. Sutter is in Edmonton today, meeting face to face with Jay Bouwmeester and his representatives.

The formalities between the two parties will undoubtedly be brief, as everyone involved is keenly aware of the stakes.

Sutter made arguably the biggest move of the 2009 Entry Draft weekend, trading Jordan Leopold and a third-round pick to the Florida Panthers for Jay Bouwmeester. Though Bouwmeester can become an unrestricted free agent on July 1st, the trade gave Sutter and the Flames an exclusive window to negotiate with the all-star blueliner, who had 15 goals and 42 points last season.

Bouwmeester will be looking for a raise from the $4.875 million US he earned last season on a contract with some length of term. With free agency hours away, Sutter has a tough task ahead in convincing Bouwmeester, who will become one of the most prized free agents on the market if he is still unsigned July 1st, to avoid the frenzy by signing with the Flames.

But after spending his entire career in hockey purgatory with a Florida Panthers team that lacked consistency on and off the ice, playing close to home, in a winning environment, with one of the most imposing blueline groups in the league may also carry some weight with the Edmonton native.

The Flames already possess one of the toughest defensive corps in the NHL, and the addition of Bouwmeester would leave them with few, if any, equals. Bouwmeester, along with Robyn Regehr and Dion Phaneuf are all expected to be given strong consideration for the Canadian 2010 Olympic team.

The suspense surrounding Bouwmeester's contract status will not last long, and with a seemingly ideal situation waiting for him here in Calgary, the natives are hoping to get the celebration rocking before the Stampede even gets underway.

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