Bozak in Post-Draft Light
Tyler Bozak isn't out of the Maple Leafs' plans. Not yet.
But if the season were to start today, it would appear the Leafs would rather start with Nazem Kadri, Mikhail Grabovski, David Bolland and Jay McClement down the middle, and with Joe Colborne pushing for playing time, rather than bend to Bozak's contract demands.
As it stands, the centre's agent, Wade Arnott, is reportedly looking for a deal in excess of $5 million per year on a deal as long as eight years, numbers the Leafs are never going to swallow for a player who was fifth on the team in scoring with a mediocre 28 points in 46 games.
Forty NHL centres had more points than Bozak last season, while only 14 played more minutes.
If another team wants to pay big for those numbers, then Bozak should consider himself a lucky man and take it.
The Leafs (and most teams) just don't have a lot of money left - about $16 million for 10 players - which also means Vinny Lecavalier isn't going to hit a home run with the Leafs either. That said, the Leafs haven't been told they are out of the running for the former Tampa pivot yet.
As it stands, if the Leafs can't do a deal with Bozak or Lecavalier before or after UFA season opens Friday, GM Dave Nonis may choose to wait until later in the summer when many NHLers may find there's not much available money in the system with the cap going down to $64.3 million next season.
In terms of Sunday's draft, the Leafs worked hard to get higher in the draft, possibly as high as No. 5 held by Carolina. Speculation is the price would have been a young player (Jake Gardiner? Tyler Biggs?) and the Leafs No. 21 pick, and Nonis didn't want to pay the price without knowing what players would be available when that slot rolled around.
The Leafs were looking for centres - possibly eying the two Swedish pivots, Elias Lindholm (who went to Carolina at No. 5) and Alexander Wennberg - and ended up taking Frederik Gauthier, who is more of a project but has great size.
In acquiring Bolland and goalie Jonathan Bernier, Nonis managed to keep his list of top prospects untouched and his 2013 first round pick. That means he still has cards to play if he wants to go the trade route to address his centre ice needs, and Gardiner's value is exceptionally high after his strong playoff performance.