Dave Bolland Contract Extension is No Easy Call

Dave Bolland Contract Extension is No Easy Call

Dave Bolland

Some Leafs news making the rounds last night as it pertains to Dave Bolland’s contract situation: Darren Dreger floated a five million dollar asking price on TSN’s Insider Trading.

Don’t get too caught up on “rumoured asking prices,” because they’re often inexact to put it mildly (Dreger reported $6+ million on David Clarkson a day or two before free agency). More than anything, it has to be a wait and see approach with Bolland. There’s no reason why the Leafs can’t reevaluate this situation come season’s end, after they’ve seen the aftermath of the injury recovery and after they’ve seen what he can do over (hopefully) 37 regular season games plus any playoff games as opposed to 15 October games. When approaching a contract of potentially four or five years in length, it should go without saying that 15 games mean basically nothing. It certainly isn’t enough to know if Bolland slots in as a complementary piece, which the Leafs need to take a hard line with and prepare for the possibility of losing rather than adding another long-term contract to their books, or a core piece for this team in the long run. How well does he recover and how big of a role does he play for Randy Carlyle down the stretch and into the playoffs?

Dave Bolland signed his existing contract, a five-year, $3.375 million (AAV) deal, before the 2009-10 season when the cap was $56.8 million; that’s about 5.9% of the cap. The same deal under the current $64.3 million cap is $3.8 million. Under a $70.2 million cap, which is what the cap will be during the first year of his next contract, it would be $4.1 million. He’s won two Cups since signing the contract, scoring 8 goals and 16 points during the first winning run and the Stanley-Cup winning goal during the second (after a much quieter playoff run and poor season overall). Hurting his case is his inability to stay healthy, playing just 226 of a possible 356 games (just 63.4% of total games, or an average of 52 out of 82 games), and the fact that the offensive promise shown in the 2008-09 season as a 22-year-old, when he posted 19 goals and 47 points (career highs), was never achieved again let alone built upon during the contract. Nevertheless, he signed that contract as an RFA under a $56.8 million cap.

Given his UFA leverage, a rising cap and his two rings since (including 17 goals and 43 points in 67 playoff games), it seems optimistic to think Bolland can be had for less than $4 million even if the Leafs give him the term he wants. Is Tyler Bozak money the best the Leafs can hope for with this player? It’s a guessing game, and for all we know a hometown discount might factor in to some extent. As Anthony pointed out, though, the Leafs could soon find themselves with the one of the most expensive forward corps in a year’s time once Nazem Kadri is due up for a contract, and we can question whether or not it would be strong enough down the middle to justify that (the goal is winning a Cup, remember). Meanwhile, the Leafs have been getting their excellent goaltending at a bargain price (that won’t last much longer) and their defence is pretty young, incomplete, in need of improvement, and soon to be in need of some new contracts.

It’s shaping up to be the most difficult contract negotiation with an in-house player Dave Nonis has had to face as Maple Leafs GM.


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Tomorrow is the first Leafs game day in three weeks!