Please give a warm welcome to Taylor Wright, the newest member of the MLHS writing team. Be sure to follow him @taylor_wright.
On Sunday at the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Toronto Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis acquired centre Dave Bolland from the Stanley Cup-winning Chicago Blackhawks in exchange for picks 51, 117 and a fourth round pick in 2014.
You knew that already, I’m guessing. So let’s take a look at how Bolland was used in Chicago, how well he performed in his role and what we can expect from him as a Leaf.
HOW WAS HE USED?
This past season Bolland spent his time on the ice with Patricks Kane and Sharp, and ranked 6th in TOI/G among Hawks forwards (excluding Brandon Pirri and Ben Smith who combined for 2 games played). Bolland’s 12:58 of even strength TOI/G ranked him 7th among Chicago forwards (excluding Smith and Hayes who combined for 11 games played). Bolland did however benefit from the fifth most power play time per game among Chicago forwards, a whopping 2:28 per game. Bolland’s power play time was spent mostly with Kane, Stalberg, Leddy, and Sharp. Bolland played an average of 0:52 on the penalty kill a game, good for 7th among Chicago forwards (excluding Smith’s one game).
Bolland played against some pretty tough competition this season, ranking first among Hawks forwards if we exclude the 10 games of Jimmy Hayes. Bolland also had the third-lowest offensive zone start numbers of the Hawks forwards at 49.6%, a testament to how dominant Chicago is in terms of possession.
What does all of this tell us about how Bolland was used this season? Well, his even strength line mates were two highly skilled, top-six players and he saw over twice as much time on the power play as he did on the penalty kill. He faced the toughest competition of any regular Blackhawk forward and his zone usage was similarly tough (but not McClement or Grabovski tough).
HOW DID HE DO?
In terms of production, Bolland had 7 goals, 7 assists and 14 points. He earned 10 of his points (70%) at 5v5 and 3 points (21%) on the power play. For context, Bolland spent about 79% of his time on the ice at even strength and about 15% of his time on the power play.
In looking the always-useful behindthenet.ca, we can see the rate of production for Bolland per 60 minutes of 5v5 time (0.69G, 0.41A1, 0.14A2, 1.24P). That point rate is 14th best among Hawks forwards (11th if you remove Morin’s 3 games, Smith’s 1 and Hayes’ 10). If we compare that to his most common line mates, we see that Kane’s production is 1.02G, 1.26A1, 0.39A2, 2.67P and Sharp’s is 0.76G, 0.76A1, 0.30A2, 1.82P. So Bolland’s even strength scoring pace is drastically lower than that of his highly-skilled 2013 linemates.
Considering that the seemingly outgoing Bozak was a king on the dot, how does our newest centre fare? Well, Bolland’s faceoff rate was a pretty dismal 46.1%, though a quick look at how he fared in the defensive zone tells a slightly different story. In the defensive zone (at even strength), Bolland was on the ice for 140 and 74 of those face-offs were won for a 52.8% win rate. Because of the data we can only look at the wins while he was on the ice, but considering he played with Sharp and Kane mostly it makes sense to assume that he was the one taking them (if that’s not the case then please correct me). Also of interest is the difference between Bolland’s home and away face-off performance: at home Bolland won 51.4% of his face-offs but just 39.9% while on the road.
It is of course important to point out that Bolland was injured this season and missed 13 regular season games and 5 playoff games with a variety of injuries: leg, upper-body, foot, and groin. If Bolland is going to contribute significantly to the Maple Leafs next season he’ll need to stay healthy: in the last five season’s he’s played just 292 of 376 games.
And finally, if we look at the possession numbers we see that Bolland has some of the worst numbers on the Hawks. In fact his numbers look quite similar to Jay McClement’s numbers in a similar context of usage (though McClement’s zone starts appeared much tougher).
The big question is how this season stacks up to previous seasons of Dave Bolland? The production at even strength is roughly what we can expect from Dave Bolland, similar to last season’s production and down a bit from two seasons prior. But his possession numbers this year are a dramatic departure from what he’s been accomplishing in the past, and it would probably be a safe bet to say that he’ll be better next season in that regard.
WHERE DOES HE FIT HERE?
So, where does Dave Bolland fit on a roster headed in to next season with Kadri, Grabovski and McClement as the other centres?
In an interview after the trade, Nonis said, “Randy won’t pigeonhole him as a third line centre,” and that he “may be put in a more prominent role than he had in Chicago.” It’s hard to decipher what Nonis is specifically envisioning here, but the comments do concern me a little.
Bolland’s even strength production, despite being on a line with two very talented players, doesn’t appear to be enough to make him a strong fit for a top-six role. With Bozak apparently leaving the Leafs organization, Leafs fans can rejoice knowing that a third liner will no longer be centering Phil Kessel. But if Bolland is being offered an expanded role, then the same problem may rear its ugly head.
The success of this trade seems to hinge on Bolland’s ability to play tough minutes and free up the more offensively-inclined Grabovski, who was stuck with the checking role this season. In Bolland the Leafs are also adding a player that until this season was a mainstay on the Chicago penalty kill, an area hurt by the departures of Komarov and (likely) Bozak. Bolland’s power play production is another area that he has excelled in the past, though this season was disappointing in that respect, and the Leafs could certainly use an upgrade on Bozak in that area.
The good news is that Nonis called Bolland “the type of player that thrives” under Randy Carlyle’s coaching style. Hopefully Carlyle sees Bolland as his Sammy Pahlsson and not another Tyler Bozak.
I'm excited for next season. I like what we have down the middle and don't think Vinny will be worth it. Seems a lot of folk are writing Grabo off after one bad season where he was miscast
Don't really see the point of keeping Bozak since Bolland was brought in, unless there is something in the works for Grabovski. Bozak, Kadri, Bolland, Grabovski, McClemment, Colborne.....Still no true number 1 center yet, maybe they think Kadri is going to be that guy.
Giving out 8 year contracts to players who "may" reqach potential is a killer. Some of the lesser players will just slide in and collect cash, work effort not required
You hand out an 8 year deal to a player like Bozak then every average point producing bastard is going to want his too. Fuck'em.
Though if Bozak's camp has offered less than $5 million that a possible opening there in negotiations. Nonis should be able to get him to stay below $5 and reduce the length to six, possibly five. That's still a long commitment.
Haha, has someone hacked Dreger's Twitter ... anyone remember if any Leaf has ever had an eight year contract. Sundin's longest was like six.
What ever happened to Paul Ranger ??? I've looked everywhere the guy is like a ghost, do the Leafs still own his rights? I read a few stories on him and sounds like he could step right in on an NHL team.
It is possible to have a better pitching matchup than tonight's WANG vs FISTER? Cue porn music...
Remember what the tweet said folks...
"Proposal on the table believed to be 8 years at less than $5 mil per." It did not say that was the proposal from the Leafs.
Bozak will only hold down Kessel and the Maple Leafs. As long as he is around he will play with his buddy Kessel resulting in 10-20 less goals for him, plus 10 less assists because Bozak shoots right at the goalies crest everytime. He is great as a filler between two star players for a poor team and only at what he was getting paid. I wouldn't pay him a penny more.
Bozak for 8? Trade for Stastny?
How many centers do we want for crying out loud!
Only advantage the Leafs have are the buyouts...mistake fixers.
The only thing happening is Bozak is sitting down with leafs again. This 8 year is Dreger repeating what Bozak's agents asked for. No reason to worry here.
Hot off the wire......JM Liles back to Colorado or buy out.....1 of the 2......speculation is framework of deal to colorado is JML+ for Stastny.....if that breaks down.....buyout....
How about a nice cheap UFA signing in Brad Richardson from the Kings? Can play wing or center, physical energy player with speed and decent offensive abilities for our 4th line. The Belleville native is only 28 years old and can be had for under $1 million per year.
According to the league, free agents can start speaking to other teams beginning at 12:01 am ET tonight (Tuesday night/Wed morning).
Let's hope Bozak calms his ass down and signs for a reasonable price
Id also say if Vinny is going to cost Grabbo money and it comes down to a choice between the two.... Keep Grabo. We've developed him and I do like his fire. If he can get hitting the net again, he will have value to the team on 2nd line.
If Clarkson thinks he's getting anywhere near 6 Mill, he can fuck right off. Use the money on Vinny or Horton then. And if neither want to come, fuck it and try to do something via trade.
Hockey franchises usually fall under some sort umbrella
company or are their own business entity. Having said that, buy-outs
should technically be paid for/written-off by the company, and is not a
cheque written directly from the owner. Companies have retained earnings
that they can use to pay for these buy-outs. Everythine, in the end, is a business decision.
O'Neil "If I were to ever become a NHL GM, I would only do it on one condition, no meddling from the owner."
Lebrun "I'm not convinced the Leafs or the Canadiens are willing to spend as much, or give as much term, as some of the US teams. However, Lecavalier is balancing fit and contract."
Lebrun is on with Hayes on TSN1050 right now:
I've been told that the price tag for Vinny Lecavalier will be in the 5 year, 25 million range to sign him.
Habs are a nice fit for Vinnie, unless he doesn't want the pressure of going "home".
Pacioretty - Lecavalier - Gionta
Galchenyuk - Plekanec - Bourque
Prust - Desharnais - Gallagher
Moen - Eller - White
They have about 7 million to sign 3 players, so very do-able for them.
Jeff O'Neil "Kadri needs to grow-up and stop taking pictures of the front page of the Toronto Sun." Thought this was a non-story at this pt.
I wonder if a fair number of guys end up in Europe/KHL next year waiting for the cap to go back up because they're being financially squeezed out of the league in the short term.
New rule, if you're still questioning Kessel after the series he just had against Boston - this on top of the fact he is a legitimate top 10 scorer in the NHL - your opinion doesn't count!! lol
I'm just kidding, but I find it hard to believe there are still so many doubters. What does the guy need to do!?