CALGARY — Jay Bouwmeester was ready to be a piece of the Calgary Flames puzzle instead of carrying the load for an NHL team.
The 25-year-old from Edmonton was the biggest fish in the free agent pond of defencemen and he didn’t even wait for the market to open Wednesday.
Bouwmeester agreed to a five-year, US$33-million deal with Flames on Tuesday and entertained no other offers.
“It just got to the point where I was totally comfortable with things here,” Bouwmeester said Wednesday. “It probably wouldn’t have really mattered what else was out there. I liked the situation. I can’t really explain it. It’s just one of those things. You just kind of know.”
The Flames’ personnel, particularly on the blue-line, drew Bouwmeester to Calgary because he sees himself as a cog in the wheel of a high-end defence that includes Robyn Regehr, Dion Phaneuf and Cory Sarich.
Flames GM Darryl Sutter dealt Jordan Leopold and a draft pick to Florida at the NHL draft last weekend to get Bouwmeester’s rights and a head start on the competition to sign him. Sutter met with Bouwmeester at his Edmonton home Monday.