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July 1, 2008 | 11:55am ET
Bouwmeester: An attractive option
A number of teams have restricted free agent defenseman Jay Bouwmeester atop their wish list, says TFP Editor-in-Chief David Pagnotta.

[TORONTO, ON] -- The Florida Panthers could be on the verge of losing another one of their superstars, as restricted free agent defenseman Jay Bouwmeester is catching the eye of a number of NHL clubs.

Negotiations between the Panthers and Bouwmeester's Edmonton-based agent, Bryon Baltimore, have not gone the way Florida GM Jacques Martin would like. Various reports suggest Bouwmeester is unhappy playing in South Florida and while he hasn't requested a trade, many pundits suggest he'd welcome one with open arms.

As of 11:45am this morning, a deal with the Panthers had not been struck and Bouwmeester's agent sounded like a new contract wasn't on the horizon.

"There's been discussions," Baltimore told TFP.

While teams have inquired about his availability, they have also tinkered with the idea of signing Bouwmeester to an offer sheet.

Last season, the Edmonton Oilers really opened the doors to signing restricted free agents to offer sheet, doing so with Buffalo's Thomas Vanek and Anaheim's Dustin Penner. While the Sabres matched Edmonton's offer for Vanek, the Ducks decided to let Penner walk and take compensation.

Is this a trend we'll be seeing more of this week?

"I think the offer sheet mechanism is a very viable part of the CBA," said player agent Ian Pulver, who recently added Bobby Holik and Mike Cammalleri to a growing list of clients that already includes Bryan McCabe and Scott Gomez. "However, a team better be smart on how they use the tool of the offer sheet."

Yesterday, Martin told reporters he didn't have a timetable for an agreement with Bouwmeester, which should have Panthers fans worried.

You don't come across a potential No.1 defenseman very often and teams will seriously consider the pros and cons of signing Bouwmeester to an offer sheet.

Bouwmeester, 24, made $2.25 million last season and should easily double his salary - he might come close to even tripling it.

Is it worth it? Is signing him to an offer sheet worth the five first-round draft picks a team will have to give up as compensation?

"Teams will look at it differently," Pulver said. "Some teams who have a plethora of young talent in the NHL with a lot more talent on the way, and can use the offer sheet as a means of getting better and faster without giving up as much.

"There are many varied and wonderful ways an offer sheet can be used, but as I said before the team better be 'right' when they pull the trigger."

David Pagnotta is the Editor-in-Chief of The Fourth Period Magazine and covers the Toronto Maple Leafs and the NHL for He is also a contributing writer for and MSNBC.



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