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Bouwmeester excited about joining Blues

2013-04-02T15:58:00Z 2013-04-02T17:01:42Z Bouwmeester excited about joining BluesBy Jeremy Rutherford jrutherford@post-dispatch.com 314-444-7135 stltoday.com

When the Calgary Flames approached Jay Bouwmeester about exploring their trade options recently, the defenseman supplied them with a list of teams for which he'd waive his no-movement clause and accept a deal.

One of those teams was the Blues, and one day after they worked out a deal with the Flames, Bouwmeester said Tuesday he's excited to be headed to St. Louis. The 29-year-old defenseman is expected to meet the team Wednesday and be in the lineup Thursday against Chicago.

“They’re a tough team to play against," Bouwmeester said. "They're a big team that can skate, and they’ve got some pretty talented guys. I know from playing against them, they can throw a number of lines at you. They’re just a team that is solid all the way through lineup.”

Bouwmeester has faced the Blues twice this season, including a 3-2 Calgary victory 10 days ago. Flames goalie Miikka Kiprusoff made 36 saves for the victory, stopping 18 of 19 Blues' shots in the second period. 

“The second period, we had no business being in the game, (but) our goalie played unreal and kept us in it," Bouwmeester said. "They can be a pretty dominate team and I don’t think anything has changed.

"Before this (trade) happened, you sit back and look at a lot of the teams in the standings ... they have the team of anyone that can put a string together and get in (the playoffs), and with that experience from last year, do that much better in the playoffs.

"Nowadays you've just got to get in. Look at LA last year, they had a bit of a struggle throughout the year. Then they lost what two or three games the whole playoffs. It’s just about getting hot at the right time. I viewed St. Louis as comparable to LA. They have some big forwards and just a hard team to play against.”

The Blues believe that adding Bouwmeester, who averages over 25 minutes per game, will make them even more of a threat for the postseason.

"He's a minute-muncher, he's a guy that's got great mobility, he's hard to play against because he's mobile, he's got a long stick and he knows how to defend," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "I've had Jay in international play where he's been a really, really good player at high level games. He's going to be a good addition for us, a real good addition."  

After speculation that the price would be too high for Bouwmeester, the Blues didn't appear to give up a lot to land him. They dealt a first-round draft pick, defensive prospect Mark Cundari and the rights to draft pick Reto Berra, a goalie.

Bouwmeester said that he was unaware that the Blues had been coveting him for some 10 months.

“You didn’t hear a whole lot," he said. "Things up here (in Calgary) can get a little crazy. Now the last little while, when it became a reality that I might be moving on, they were definitely a team that was pretty attractive.”

The Blues have been looking for a complementary partner for Alex Pietrangelo and they have long pegged Bouwmeester to be the guy. 

“If that’s what it is, that’s another attractive thing," Bouwmeester said. "You look at their defense, him and (Kevin) Shattenkirk, they’re both real good young guys and they’re guys who can do it all. They’re good on offense and good on defense, and they’re righthanded shots.

"Personally, I’ve been playing the right side for a long time just out of necessity ... you end up over there because everyone else is lefthanded. But if that’s the way it works out (with Pietrangelo), then I’m really looking forward to it, that’s for sure.”

Pietrangelo learned about the move shortly after Monday's 4-1 win over Minnesota.

"Obviously he's a guy with a lot of experience, a top-end NHL player, plays first-pairing minutes," Pietrangelo said. "A good guy to have around, contributes on both ends of the ice, so I'm sure we'll expect the same things from him here."

But Pietrangelo didn't want to speculate on where Bouwmeester would line up.

"No idea," he said. "That's for the coach to decide. (Barret Jackman) and I have felt pretty comfortable together the past 10 games or so, it's been working pretty well. But it's just another good player to add to the 'D' corps."

The Blues know they can count on Bouwmeester to be in the lineup. He's played 621 consecutive games, the longest current streak in the NHL. With the way the trade timed, the streak will continue. It transpired after the Blues-Wild game started and before the Calgary-Edmonton game began, so he was ineligible to play in either game.

“It was actually a pretty nice thing they did," Bouwmeester said, before discussing the streak in broader terms. "It’s something you can’t really explain. There’s a lot of luck that goes into it. I haven’t had any major things that have kept me out for any amount of time, just been pretty fortunate. If it ended, it’s not the end of the world. I’m not really too attached to it, but it’s kind of a neat thing.”

How long could it continue in St. Louis? He has one more season left on his contract, which will pay him $6.6 million in 2013-14. 

“Realistically, you have to wait to figure it out," Bouwmeester of re-signing in St. Louis. "But that’s one of the things that I said to Calgary if I was going to move. Ideally I don’t want to go somewhere where in two months or six months I’m moving again. I’d like to go somewhere where there is potential to be there longer.

"I know you don’t ever know for sure about anything until you actually get there and you experience it. But I viewed (St. Louis) as a place where yeah, there’s that potential for it to beyond these next couple of years and hopefully if everything goes right, that’s the way it will be.”

Jeremy is a reporter at the Post-Dispatch. Follow him on Twitter at @jprutherford.

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