Rockford IceHogs 2017-18 Season Review: Lance Bouma

  

The Chicago Blackhawks came into the 2017-18 season with generally high hopes for Lance Bouma. After being bought out by the Calgary Flames, Bouma joined the Blackhawks by signing a one-year deal, worth $1M and figured to slot into the bottom-six of Chicago’s forward group. Two seasons removed from a 16-goal, 34-point season, Bouma and Chicago hoped that he could return to a point-producing physical presence on the ice.

He did not.

Lance Bouma Fades Into IceHogs Lineup To End 2017-18 Season

Bouma began the season in Chicago playing in a bottom-six wing role and for the most part, was doing his part in that role to help the team succeed. The problem was that the team was not succeeding and Chicago began to go south in the standings once the middle of the Winter schedule hit.

Bouma would begin to lose ice-time over the back half of his time with Chicago, logging less than ten minutes a game 21 times during his 53 games with the Blackhawks during the 2017-18 season, including just over seven minutes in his final game with the Blackhawks in February before being a healthy-scratch the rest of his time in Chicago.

With his role diminishing in Chicago, the Blackhawks sent Bouma to the Rockford IceHogs in late February and would not make a return to the NHL squad the rest of the way out. Bouma ended his tenure with the Blackhawks after 53 games with nine points (3G, 6A).

Lance Bouma Rockford IceHogs

Lance Bouma (left) fights for the puck in front of Mike McKenna in Game Three of the Western Conference Finals. (Courtesy: Rockford IceHogs)

In his time with the IceHogs, Bouma skated in 20 regular season games, tallying 14 points (7G, 7A) and was frequently slotted into a top-six role. While playing higher-priority minutes with the IceHogs, Bouma continued to play his physical role on the ice and added to the growing veteran presence in the Rockford locker room as the playoff push intensified.

Bouma’s highlight with the IceHogs came in a 5-3 win over the Chicago Wolves in late March as he notched a three-point night with two goals and an assist.

Final Season Grade: C+

In the Calder Cup Playoffs, Bouma nearly disappeared into thin air if you only looked at the box score of each game. Through the IceHogs’ 13-game run in the Calder Cup Playoffs, he tallied just one goal and one assist. But Bouma’s influence in each game was felt more by the chances he was creating for his teammates and the physicality he was able to bring, to match that of the opposing team every night.

Most notably were Bouma’s efforts during the IceHogs epic triple-overtime win over the Chicago Wolves in the opening round, where he tallied seven shots on goal.

While it was not the type of season that maybe he or the Blackhawks organization had pictured, Bouma’s influence on the young IceHogs roster will hopefully be felt as the players in the Blackhawks system progress.

Future Outlook

An unrestricted free agent when the July 1 free agency widows opens, Bouma does not look like he will factor into the Chicago Blackhawks’ plans moving forward. On the other side of the coin, Bouma probably would want a fresh start elsewhere, too. Bouma didn’t suffer any major injury during the season and should be looked at as a potential target for most NHL teams this summer.

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