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Jay Bouwmeester reached terms with the Flames on a five-year contract on Tuesday. ((Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) )

The Calgary Flames narrowly avoided losing defenceman Jay Bouwmeester to free agency, reaching terms Tuesday evening on a five-year contract.

Bouwmeester, 25, would have become an unrestricted free agent Wednesday at noon ET.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but reports peg the salary cap hit at $6.6 million US annually.

A media conference is scheduled Wednesday at the Pengrowth Saddledome (2 p.m. MT).

"I'm happy to have this deal done as Calgary was a team I was very interested in playing for," Bouwmeester said.

"Jay is one of the most complete defencemen in the game and we're very pleased to have reached an agreement," Flames general manager Darryl Sutter noted in a statement.

Calgary acquired Bouwmeester's negotiating rights at last Saturday's NHL draft in return for the rights to fellow defenceman Jordan Leopold and a third-round pick.

"We identified Jay as the priority player where we were going to focus our money," Sutter said. "We wanted an opportunity, a few days in advance of the [July 1] deadline, and that is why we made the move we did this past weekend."

"I was encouraged by the commitment Calgary showed by acquiring me prior to July 1," Bouwmeester admitted. "I'm familiar with some of the players and believe we have a strong club that is poised to make the next step in becoming a championship club."

Bouwmeester had spent his entire NHL career with the Florida Panthers, posting 53 goals and 150 assists for 203 points in 471 games since being drafted third overall in 2002.

The Edmonton native had 15 goals and 42 points in 82 games last season.

With files from The Canadian Press