Where does Dave Bolland fit in?

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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.

  • http://twitter.com/jmckelvie RielledUp

    TheCanucksnaphook Taylor?

    • http://twitter.com/jmckelvie RielledUp

      TheCanucksnaphook RielledUp i guess i missed something

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ FreddyG

    Welcome, Taylor. Nice first post.
    I think you’ve nailed it. If this is the extent of Nonis’ additions down the middle, then I hope it’s because Grabovski is being bumped onto a scoring line and Bolland is being relied on to do what he did best in Chicago – be a top end checking line centre.

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ FreddyG

    TheCanucksnaphook NEW GUY

  • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Clark17

    Welcome to the best hockey site on the net!
    Nonis words about Grabovski yesterday sounded pretty definitive that the Leafs are going to give him a shot to bounce back next season. He didn’t do his usual “say nothing about anything” answer. He said Grabovski had a tough season in a tough role and will look to contribute to his abilities next fall. 
    There’s no way Carlyle was happy with Grabovski as a shutdown C. It was out of necessity he was placed there, and during the Bruins series, Grabo struggled to produce and he didn’t shut down anybody.
    Bolland will be Carlyle’s pet.

  • http://stores.ebay.ca/UncleJakesCards?_rdc=1 unclejakescards

    https://twitter.com/JoshRimerHockeyhttps://twitter.com/JoshRimerHockey/status/351871804844933121
    Another goalie avail RT https://twitter.com/StapeNewsday: https://twitter.com/search?q=%23Isles&src=hash will place Rick DiPietro on waivers tomorrow for purpose of comp. buyout, Newsday has learned

    FUUUUCK !!!!

    • TheCanucksnaphook

      unclejakescards Absolutely incredible isnt it?

    • http://stores.ebay.ca/UncleJakesCards?_rdc=1 unclejakescards

      TheCanucksnaphook unclejakescards ya, total bummer

    • http://stores.ebay.ca/UncleJakesCards?_rdc=1 unclejakescards

      TheCanucksnaphook unclejakescards ya, total bummer

    • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

      TheCanucksnaphook unclejakescards $1.5 large for 16 years….sign me up for that action.

      • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

        TheCanucksnaphook ingy56 I’d pay someone to golf for me. #19thhole

      • http://stores.ebay.ca/UncleJakesCards?_rdc=1 unclejakescards

        ingy56 TheCanucksnaphook unclejakescards i really didnt think wang would do it ,,, yashin all over again

  • Pent_House

    Decent article, but same old same old, advanced stats to describe a player. It would be nice to see this site take the next step, and actually get hands on video and do some real analysis.

    • TheCanucksnaphook

      Pent_House welcome to the brave new world….of stats.

    • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Clark17

      Pent_House Well, let’s think about that for a sec.
      Are we going to watch all of his games, hours and hours and hours of footage? How can we encompass his whole season without looking at his stats like situational ice time? Which provides more anecdotal evidence/an incomplete picture – The  stats, or a few hand picked clips of video?

    • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Clark17

      Pent_House Well, let’s think about that for a sec.
      Are we going to watch all of his games, hours and hours and hours of footage? How can we encompass his whole season without looking at his stats like situational ice time? Which provides more anecdotal evidence/an incomplete picture – The  stats, or a few hand picked clips of video?

      • Pent_House

        @Clark17 Pent_House  Aren’t you the smart ass. I’m  not asking these guys to watch his entire season, but some video work to support the stats would be nice. I’m tired of players being reduced and explained by faulty stats. Get some context, see his style of play, I wish these stats would at least incorporate at the bare minimum the fore-check teams used.

        • http://mapleleafshotstove.com/ Clark17

          Pent_House It wasn’t a smart ass remark. Not just from a practical standpoint – where do you get all that video, who has the time (who isn’t paid to do it) to go through game by game by game?
          Highlight packages are technically video breakdowns right? Video based analysis can be flawed and anecdotal too.

    • wiski

      Pent_House Hey Kurwa that song you played yesterday get lucky is a new song? I thought it was from the 80’s good stuff 😉

    • wiski

      Pent_House Hey Kurwa that song you played yesterday get lucky is a new song? I thought it was from the 80’s good stuff 😉

  • Pent_House

    Decent article, but same old same old, advanced stats to describe a player. It would be nice to see this site take the next step, and actually get hands on video and do some real analysis.

  • Cloud09

    You’ve gotta be kidding right 8yr/48M?? Who the hell does he think he is?

  • TheCanucksnaphook

    Side story….guy I golfed with hit the weed early, crushed beers on the patio and during the round.  Was borderline sloppy by the 18th hole.
    I shot 77.  He shot 73.  Fuck my life.

  • Mattmark

    Should Leafs claim Keith Ballard?  Hits harder than Phaneuf and is more mobile.

    • wiski

      Mattmark I prefer Edler but hmm

      • Mattmark

        wiski Mattmark But Edler isn’t on waivers.

        • wiski

          Mattmark were did you see the waiver list?

        • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

          wiski Mattmark I believe Ballard is on regular waivers too, not for buyout purposes.

        • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

          wiski Mattmark I believe Ballard is on regular waivers too, not for buyout purposes.

        • Mattmark

          wiski Mattmark TSN said a couple of hours ago that Gillis had put Ballard on waivers.

    • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

      Mattmark Maybe if he got bought out and the Leafs could sign him cheaper, but not on that deal.

      • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

        Mattmark ingy56 Haha…not going there.

      • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

        Mattmark ingy56 Haha…not going there.

      • Uncle Otis

        ingy56 
        Oh shit…here we go 😉

      • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

        Uncle Otis ingy56 Not going there…….

      • Mattmark

        ingy56 Mattmark Might get a good return for Phaneuf, in addition to more cap space.  Could be worth it.
        I think another team (maybe Edmonton?) will claim Ballard though.

      • wiski

        Uncle Otis ingy56 deleted too late damn

      • Mattmark

        ingy56 Uncle Otis My comment has been deleted?  That’s a first.  For suggesting a hockey move someone didn’t agree with??

      • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

        Mattmark ingy56 Uncle Otis Odd, maybe Alec doesn’t want the thread hijacked.

      • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

        Mattmark ingy56 Uncle Otis Odd, maybe Alec doesn’t want the thread hijacked.

      • Uncle Otis

        ingy56 
        I blame the NSA 😉

      • Uncle Otis

        ingy56 
        I blame the NSA 😉

      • Mattmark

        Uncle Otis ingy56 Guess they like Phaneuf.

      • Mattmark

        Uncle Otis ingy56 Guess they like Phaneuf.

      • Bobsyouruncle

        ingy56 Mattmark Uncle Otis So what do you think we could get for a one dimensional player like Kessel? lol Maybe package him with the big dumb Pylon.

      • DWCMLHS

        ingy56 Mattmark Uncle Otis That’s likely it. Personally, I wasn’t even go to touch that one. It wouldn’t have been worth the time. And I always defend Dion when people say stupid shit about him.

      • Uncle Otis

        Mattmark 
        Naw,just Elisha :)

      • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

        Mattmark Uncle Otis ingy56 New writer, I think maybe Alec wants some discourse on the article. Besides, this topic has been beaten to death.

      • wiski

        Uncle Otis ingy56 NSA guy walks into a bar and asks for a beer. Bartender import or domestic, NSA guy what’s the difference 😉

      • wiski

        Uncle Otis ingy56 NSA guy walks into a bar and asks for a beer. Bartender import or domestic, NSA guy what’s the difference 😉

      • Mattmark

        ingy56 Mattmark Uncle Otis Well, I was more interested in getting a read on opinions about Ballard than Phaneuf.  If this thread stayed focused on a single hockey topic it would be the first.

    • http://i.imgur.com/MyKj5C3.gif ingy56

      Mattmark Maybe if he got bought out and the Leafs could sign him cheaper, but not on that deal.

    • DWCMLHS

      Mattmark Ballard is a third-pairing Dman at this point, hence the buyout.

      • newkb

        But he’s wicked awesome at cranking his goalie…

        • DWCMLHS

          newkb So THAT’s why we got Bernier. To take over for Reimer when Ballard inevitably takes his head off.

        • DWCMLHS

          newkb So THAT’s why we got Bernier. To take over for Reimer when Ballard inevitably takes his head off.

    • Cameron19

      Mattmark Good God, you cannot be serious…

      • Mattmark

        Cameron19 Mattmark Your objections?

        • Cameron19

          Mattmark Cameron19 Ballard barely belongs in the NHL at this point.  Comparing him to Phaneuf is an incredible stretch, even for Phaneuf-haters.

    • Alec Brownscombe

      Mattmark This is a troll post. You didn’t just infer Ballard is a superior defenceman to Dion Phaneuf, did you? He’s on waivers, eh?

      • wiski

        Alec Brownscombe Mattmark I’m too tired to PH9 it tonight can we save it for another time 😉

      • Mattmark

        Alec Brownscombe Mattmark There are varying definitions of what constitutes trollish behaviour, but I never heard that expressing a preference for one hockey player over another in a hockey forum was one of them.  In any event, to infer from what I said that Ballard is a superior defenseman to Phaneuf would be an error in logic.  What is legitimately inferable from my post is that a player who may not be the match of another could still be a better fit for a team if he costs less.

    • Alec Brownscombe

      Mattmark This is a troll post. You didn’t just infer Ballard is a superior defenceman to Dion Phaneuf, did you? He’s on waivers, eh?