The Torontosaurus Rex for Week 21 is ….
Saturday’s 6-4 win over Edmonton was the only game Tyler Bozak didn’t eclipse 20 minutes of ice time since the trade deadline, but ended with a career high three-point night scoring once and adding two helpers.
He played over six minutes on the powerplay in the last two games including 6:49 against the Islanders – an odd reference to a lottery that has become a bad joke to fans, nightmare to management.
Ending the week with two goals and three assists for five points, included two pointless affairs, Bozak was visible in all four. He’s even killing penalties, shown confidence by the coaching staff has in his defensive game, as well as leading the Leafs in face-off percentage at 56% for the season. It seems like every important draw includes Bozak at the dot.
Having broken the news of signing to Toronto on MLHS himself, http://mapleleafshotstove.com/index.php/2009/04/02/race-for-tyler-bozak-in-the-final-stretch/#comments as well as having a distinguished week, congratulations, Tyler Bozak you made the list of prestigious Torontosaurus Rex recipients (and caught Junior’s eye).
But it doesnâ€™t end here.
Draft Selection Injection
Brian Burke referred to Bozak after signing him out of college as a free agent that he was the equivalent of a first-round pick – as a found asset. In the next few days he will turn 24 years-old, which places his draft eligibility year in 2005; this is an important point of contention in light of the improvement of youth in Toronto.
A first-round pick may be an optimistic evaluation; warranted based on recent play with increased responsibilities and his ability to mesh with Phil Kessel, so there’s a case to be made here.
Toronto traded their 2003 first-round pick to San Jose (Owen Nolan) and their 2004 first-rounder to the NY Rangers (Brian Leetch), as well as having dealt their second round pick from Glen Wesley the year before.
The only players ever to dress in an NHL game from the 2003 draft were John Mitchell and Jeremy Williams. In 2004, the seven selections included goaltender, Justin Pogge (3rd 90th), have played less than 50 NHL games.
Clearly, the Leafs needed to inject some players from that age group in to their lineup, a main point Dave Poulin tried to identify when a local radio show confronted him with the unsubstantiated statement – without quantitative reference – “98% of college free agents make it into the NHL.”
In what would have been Bozak’s draft year, 2005, Tuukka Rask and Anton Stralman are the only players selected having played in the NHL, both now in other organizations. This is the famous Sidney Crosby draft, featuring players such as Bobby Ryan, Jack Johnson, Carey Price, Anze Kopitar, Devin Setoguchi, Marc Staal and Steve Downie in the first round.
This fairly successful draft produced later round gems like Paul Stastny, Guillaume Latendresse, James Neal and Mason Raymond (2nd) .. Jonathan Quick, Kris Letang and Kris Russell (3rd) .. Keith Yandle, Jarred Boll, and perhaps one of the best throwaway pick ever, Nashville’s Patric Hornqvist in the 7th round, 230 overall.
It also produced such notables as Sasha Pokulok, Ryan O’ Marra, Kenndal McArdle, Matt Lashoff, Joe Finlay and Matt Pelech.
When comparing Bozak’s development from his draft year onward, considering he wasn’t drafted, will he be able to have an impact of players from the first rounders of 2005?
The additions of Bozak and Christian Hanson (although less talented, but could be a good role player a la Joel Otto) should be assessed as products of their draft year, injected into the Leafs system in that particular age group. On top of player development, contracts make this laddering approach necessary so that expiring contracts donâ€™t all come up in the same year.
If Bozak can develop close to the first rounders, on someone else’s time and devotion, imagine what a focused hockey approach can make him.
katshockey (at) mapleleafshotstove.com