Two goals, five assists, and minus-5 in 17 games played since the March 4th trade deadline.
Those are the stats of Jay Bouwmeester of the Florida Panthers. With several rumors surrounding him leading up to the deadline, the Panthers held steady in hopes of a return to the playoffs. With those hopes dashed, you have to wonder if it was the right decision to make in the grand scheme of things. Especially now, with the Panthers out of it, the question remains if keeping their stud defenseman was worth it, considering it will take a lot to keep him in Florida come July 1st. Instead of getting something in return, they'll probably end up getting nothing from it all, unless they are able to make some sort of off-season blockbuster trade before the Free Agent Frenzy.
Considering his stats, it may have been the wrong decision to keep him around, but at the same time-- you never know what one could do. With a change of scenary, Bouwmeester could have had a breakout second-half performance and make the Panther fans scream out in horror and question why they dealt him away. Damned if you do, damned if you don't-- I suppose. Considering it all, the Panthers should have continued their rebuild by trading away Bouwmeester at the deadline to get some solid prospects and maybe a couple draft picks. With Keaton Ellerby and Colby Robak progressing well in the Panthers' eyes, maybe it should have been the best decision to cut loose of Jay-Bo, but hindsight being what it is-- they may be too late to get anything for him now.
Though it's not a sure thing that he can't be traded, odds are that the Panthers won't be able to unload him to anyone for anything substantal and the teams may just go into a bidding war rather than give up prospects or draft picks for Bouwmeester. That could be the death blow for the Panthers if they not only miss the playoffs, but get nothing for Bouwmeester in the end of this whole thing. But it's a gamble when you're a fringe team like they were; to give up a big piece of the puzzle in order to look towards next year and beyond or keep him and hope the momentum isn't lost so we can get him back for next year and beyond.
It's going to be wait and see now if the Panthers can somehow lure Bouwmeester back into the fold, but the odds are strongly against them. They could look back and think of this as yet another fumble in their attempt to rebuild, but it's a risk trying to desperately make the playoffs like the Panthers were, especially when the support isn't there right now and may force them to move from the friendly Florida confines to somewhere else.