Courtesy of Sportsnet:
“The Toronto Maple Leafs have won the race to sign highly-touted free agent forward Tyler Bozak from the University of Denver Pioneers, sources tell Sportsnet. A strong two-way centre, Bozak has been generating league-wide interest since his freshman year with as many as 25 NHL teams trying to get his name on a contract.”
“While he did miss a large chunk of this past season due to a knee injury, Bozak finished with eight goals and 15 assists in 19 games. He did return for the NCAA Tournament, recording a goal and an assist as his top-seeded Pioneers were upset 4-2 by Miami.
Passed over by NHL teams in his draft year, the 23-year-old Regina native is subject to entry level contract limits. Earlier this week, the Leafs signed another NCAA prospect in Christian Hanson. Son of Dave from “Slap Shot” movie fame, the 23-year-old inked a two-year deal with the Blue & White.”
Props to Tyler himself who came on our distinguished website to break the news in the comments section:http://mapleleafshotstove.com/index.php/2009/04/02/race-for-tyler-bozak-in-the-final-stretch/#comments
Lost the Wheeler sweepstakes. Lost the Brunnstrom sweepstakes. Illegally won the Frogren sweepstakes. At least things are starting to turn around here in Toronto, and players around the hockey world are starting to take notice. Here’s an interesting thought: I wonder if Tyler’s decision was at least influenced somewhat when he saw his fellow collegiate Christian Hanson sign on with the Leafs and just a few days later, is granted the opportunity to play top minutes with the team alongside their leading scorer (Jason Blake). Pretty shrewd move by Leafs management to really send that message out there to everyone.
Sportsnet is the first source to report this so far, so I guess we’ll have to await confirmation from other outlets. Let’s hope this is not like the Ponikarovsky case where Sportsnet reported he had been traded to Nashville on trade deadline day for two picks.
The 23 year old Bozak is described as a strong, two-way player with a complete all-around game similar to Matt Stajan or a Travis Zajac. He burst onto the scene with a 128 point campaign during his last season in the BCHL before making the jump over to the NCAA. He has been Denver’s best player for the better part of the last 2 seasons, on a team that includes Boston’s top prospect Joe Colborne and Toronto prospect Tyler Ruegsegger. No word yet on where or when Tyler will be suiting up for the Leafs, but it may make sense to stick him in between Hagman and Stempniak in order to keep the hot Kulemin-Grabovski-Ponikarovsky line untouched.
Here’s a short clip of Tyler showing off some soft hands and great skill:
And now to officially start spreading “Bozo” as the next great nickname.
Always a pleasure,