The Unbearable Lightness of Being Tyler Bozak

Kent Wilson
July 06 2011 01:02PM

 

 

In addition to Clark MacArthur, the Leafs also retained the services of Tyler Bozak yesterday to the (reported) tune of $1.5 million per year over the next two years.

The contract size is relatively insignificant in the grand scheme of the salary cap, particularly to a team like the Leafs who can cover a million dollar ticket with the change they find in the seats of the team plane. The issue with Bozak is he may be as equally insignificant.

Bozak was a hot commodity coming out college and expectations when he signed with the Leafs were to be a top-six center. It's a role he's been tasked with off-and-on over the last two seasons and failed at miserably despite sheltered minutes. In 2009-10, Bozak appeared in 37 games, saw some ofthe easiest competition on the team, started out more often in the offensive zone and was still only marginally above water in terms of possession (+1.7 corsi/60). He managed to put up 2.53 even strength points per 60 minutes of ice that year because of a team high on-ice SH% of 10.48%. The next best forward was Phil Kessel at 8.57%.

Puck luck disguised Bozak's failings in his rookie year and inflated his production. As tends to happen, the bounces went the other way his past season, with Bozak's on-ice SH% falling to a near-team low 6.57%. Unfortunately, his other underlying numbers didn't improve enough to compensate. He still faced relatively soft opposition, started in the offensive end more often than any other Leafs forward and finished with the sixth worst corsi rating on the club (-7.12/60). As a result, his output slumped to just 15 goals, 32 points and a team low -29 rating n 82 games.

With a PDO of 97.0, Bozak is in-line to rebound somewhat this season as a matter of variance. The question is: does Tyler Bozak actually help the Leafs win? He will likely fall to third on Toronto's depth chart behind Grabvoski and newly signed Tim Connolly. That initally seems like a role more suited to Bozak: facing third and fourth liners at ES. However, he has already skated in fairly soft circumstances and failed to do more than tread water. This was despite frequently playing with Phil Kessel.

Although he's just 25-years old, one begins to wonder what the point of retaining Bozak is at any price. Absent a Connolly injury (which is admittedly quite possible), Bozak will probably spent the year on a line with Colby Armstrong and Mike Brown or some other bottom-six grinder on his wings. It seems unlikely he'll be able to drive the play, score or even check anyone effectively in that role given his prior track record.

In addition, the Leafs may have two other options at center ice this coming year if Matthew Lombardi can regain his health and/or if Nazem Kadri can make the leap to the big league. As such, the upcoming year will be a critical season for Bozak's career: if he can't prove to be anything more than a replacement level player (his goals versus threshold last season was 0.6), then he's bound to be rendered obsolete.

39d8109299a9795cb3b41a4e9b49d501
Former Nations Overlord. Current Fn contributor and curmudgeon For questions, complaints, criticisms, etc contact Kent @ kent.wilson@gmail. Follow him on Twitter here.
Avatar
#1 pete
July 06 2011, 01:31PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Never mind Kadri OR Bozak, I am somewhat in favour of the idea of Bozak and Kadri together on that third line.

If Kadri makes the team out of camp, which isn't a certainty at this point. They have 12 1-way forward contracts as it is (although Orr and Lombardi are big question marks for opening night)

Neither Kadri nor Bozak is anywhere close to being able to do the heavy lifting against top competition, but they both have good offensive instincts.

Colby Armstrong, though overpaid for his role, is capable of doing some of the dirty work for them there, and is not completely devoid of finish.

I guess in an ideal world, that 3rd line is a sort of holding pen for those two where they're not being asked to shut down anybody of consequence, but also skating against NHL competition and seeing what they can do on the offensive side of things.

I don't think you touch the magical mojo of the Grabovski line until it falls apart, but in a way, I guess that's sort of a permanent tryout for a scoring line. Connolly will mesh well with Kessel, but i still have doubts Lupul is in the medium term plans.

Bozak had moderate success on the PK and is an excellent faceoff man -- two good attributes in a #3 centre.

At any rate, the Leafs will certainly know what they have on their hands by the end of this deal. At $1.5M per year and nothing else to spend the cap space on anyway, I'm fine with it.

Avatar
#3 Ferg
July 07 2011, 09:18AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

This post manages to say a whole lot of nothing while using a whole bunch of advanced stats. I may be calling myself out as an uneducated hockey fan by saying this, but I have no idea how the stats you used supported your points.

I'd really enjoy reading something about hockey that doesn't make me reach for a calculator. I know that stats can have a lot of insight, but if you just shove numbers at me without explaining them, it's no different to me than listening to someone wax about unproven lockerroom intangibles.

Maybe next time, try to make your point without hiding behind incomprehensible stats? Or at least explain how the numbers you're interjecting support your point?

Stats seem like such a crutch to me.

Avatar
#4 alia
July 07 2011, 09:28AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I don't understand what you mean by soft opposition .Bozak played against first and second line centers all throughout his time with the leafs and most teams certainly have a better depth at the center position than we do.

Avatar
#5 Pension Plan Puppets
July 07 2011, 10:37AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Ferg

"if you just shove numbers at me without explaining them, it's no different to me than listening to someone wax about unproven lockerroom intangibles"

Kent's writing based on the assumption that his readers will have a baseline knowledge of advanced metrics. It's not really feasible to re-define those terms in every post.

What's so incomprehensible about this passage:

"In 2009-10, Bozak appeared in 37 games, saw some ofthe easiest competition on the team, started out more often in the offensive zone and was still only marginally above water in terms of possession"

In other words:

"Played the easiest competition, started most often in the opposition's zone, and even then was barely adequate in terms of puck possession."

No voodoo, just some thoughts that are then backed up with observable figures instead of left to the reader having to take the writer's word for its veracity.

Avatar
#6 Pension Plan Puppets
July 07 2011, 10:38AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

"I don't understand what you mean by soft opposition .Bozak played against first and second line centers all throughout his time with the leafs and most teams certainly have a better depth at the center position than we do."

Except that's not what the stats that Kent linked to showed. Bozak did not face the opposition's best centres on a consistent basis especially when teams started to focus their efforts on stopping the MacArthur-Grabovski-Kulemin line.

Avatar
#7 Ferg
July 07 2011, 10:57AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Pension Plan Puppets

PPP

Then this isn't the kind of place I want to read hockey news.

Thanks for letting me know.

Avatar
#8 Pension Plan Puppets
July 07 2011, 11:09AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Ferg wrote:

PPP

Then this isn't the kind of place I want to read hockey news.

Thanks for letting me know.

Sorry that Kent writes posts with numbers.

Avatar
#9 Ferg
July 07 2011, 11:10AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Also, PPP thanks for translating one of the actual comprehensible sentences in the piece, why not try your hand at these ones:

With a PDO of 97.0, Bozak is in-line to rebound somewhat this season as a matter of variance.

As such, the upcoming year will be a critical season for Bozak's career: if he can't prove to be anything more than a replacement level player (his goals versus threshold last season was 0.6), then he's bound to be rendered obsolete.

My problems with these stats is that though they probably have a lot of value to add, I don't know what that value exactly is without a little more explanation. Such as: a good PDO for someone of Bozak's age, experience, position is? What is a good goals versus threshold? And also, a sentence such as "rebound somewhat this season as a matter of variance" just seems like double speak to me.

But hey, if the audience of having someone with a baseline understanding of metrics is someone you're writing to I'm obviously not one of them. Sorry to take up your time.

Avatar
#10 Walter Sobchak
July 07 2011, 11:33AM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Ferg

I agree and empathize with your whole stats issue, it does get a little boring and some make no sense at all.

However, it has some insight to how a player performs and are used as a stepping stone or a baseline of performance for the players.

So, The creator of PDO is Vic Ferrari, a prominent hockey blogger and statistical analyst. He defined PDO as the the sum of a team's even strength shooting percentage and even strength save percentage (this analysis is easily applied to players as well). The idea is that if a team or player has a high PDO, it's going to come down in the future; if it's a low PDO, you can expect an increase in performance.

Corsi Number (or Corsi Rating) is similar to +/- only it counts the number of shots directed towards goal at even strength instead of goals scored/against. Shots directed towards goal include all missed shots and blocked shots. So if you were on the ice for a shot on goal and a missed shot on offense (+2) and a shot on goal on defense (-1), you would have a corsi rating of +1. The metric was developed by Jim Corsi.

See boring. but there you go, I hope it helps, usually Kent has good articals and is a good read.

Avatar
#11 Pension Plan Puppets
July 07 2011, 12:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

@Ferg

Sorry but your first comment's tone displayed far less of an inclination towards seeking greater understanding and more towards antagonism.

@Wes - Great explanation but if a stat makes no sense then it's quickly discarded. They may be hard to understand (Lord knows I have to work at it myself) but they do make sense.

To expand, mc79hockey has looked at previous years' numbers and it seems that PDO works it's way back to 100.0 which is what Kent means when he says that it is a matter of variance. If you broke Bozak's career up into smaller segments you'd probably find that his PDO number fluctuated but as a whole it would work its way back to 100.

That 3.0 gap is actually a relatively large one so that natural push towards 100.0 could provide some improvement in Bozak's results in and of itself.

Goals Versus Threshold is a metric that the Puck prospectus guys are working on developing and refining that seeks to quantify what value a player offers over and above a standard player or what is referred to as a replacement-level player. This figure is currently partially biased towards offensive players because it can be so difficult to quantify defensive contribution.

Last year Bozak was just 0.6 goals above replacement-level. If he is still around that level for the next two years then it is probably a sign that there is no need for the Leafs to re-sign him or commit to him long-term since they can conceivably just slot in a replacement-level player into his spot for a smaller contract with the same results.

Avatar
#12 Walter Sobchak
July 07 2011, 12:49PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Anyways, Bozak should have been further developed in the AHL, and his development no doubt was/has been damaged by being rushed into the league. You will see the benefit of bringing a player along the AHL route in Kadri. I expect Kadri to be a lot better and more mature/ready for the NHL.

Avatar
#15 Pension Plan Puppets
July 07 2011, 01:53PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props
Walter Sobchak wrote:

Anyways, Bozak should have been further developed in the AHL, and his development no doubt was/has been damaged by being rushed into the league. You will see the benefit of bringing a player along the AHL route in Kadri. I expect Kadri to be a lot better and more mature/ready for the NHL.

Unfortunately, there were 29 other teams interested in Bozak and he was only ever going to sign with a team that was going to give him significant minutes from the outset.

He's far from a lost cause though so while the baptism by fire might not have been the greatest he'll get the kind of reps that he could have used earlier now. Hopefully it's not too late.

Avatar
#16 Oil4Ever
July 07 2011, 05:17PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

Honestly I have absolutely nothing to add because while I recognize that the Oilers are awful, their management is incompetent, and we're wasting the early years of some really good contracts that is the extent of my hockey knowledge. Best of luck to the Leafs this year.

Avatar
#17 Oil4Ever
July 07 2011, 09:27PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

The Leafs moderator is seemingly intelligent on top of obviously being handsome.

Avatar
#18 Oil4Ever
July 07 2011, 09:32PM
Trash it!
0
trashes
+1
0
props

I assume the lack of comments has more to do with growing a site and not wanting to allow the kind of comments for which Oilers Nation has become infamous. Hopefully, idiot trolls will learn that they are not welcome here unless they are going to offer intelligent commentary.

Comments are closed for this article.