Dave Bolland is not a fit for the Edmonton Oilers

Jonathan Willis
June 28 2013 09:24AM

On Wednesday, ESPN/TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun tweeted that Chicago Blackhawks centre Dave Bolland was being shopped by the team. Bolland, highly regarded as one of the league’s best checking centres in recent years, would under normal circumstances be a highly desirable acquisition for the Edmonton Oilers. Circumstances, however, are far from normal.

The Cost

If Bob Stauffer is anywhere close with his report as to what the Blackhawks are asking for – and it’s pretty unlikely he would write that unless he had solid information – than Chicago isn’t looking to shed cap hit or simply move the player out; they’re hoping for a team to see Bolland as a guy who drives results.

A reminder as to what Pominville (and a fourth-round pick) fetched at the deadline for Buffalo:

The 16th overall draft pick in 2013 A second round draft pick in 2014 Prospect Johan Larsson (2nd round pick in 2010; 62GP, 15-22-37 in the AHL this season as a rookie) Prospect Matt Hackett (3rd round pick in 2009; 43GP, 0.907 SV% in his third AHL season)

Larsson and Hackett both had relatively poor seasons – Larsson was a much bigger scorer in Sweden while Hackett managed 0.917 and 0.916 save percentage seasons in his two previous AHL campaigns – but both are still decent if unspectacular prospects.

It isn’t a ridiculous return for a third-line centre who is among the best in the league at his position, but then that’s the second problem.

2013

Dave Bolland had a miserable season in 2013.

Unlike in previous campaigns, Bolland didn’t play brutal minutes. He did see good opponents, but he had a 50/50 split of offensive and defensive zone draws and basically had Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp welded on either hip all season. Of course, Bolland missed some time to injury, so Kane and Sharp played roughly half their minutes with Bolland and half their minutes with other players. A look at their results with and without Bolland is instructive.

With Patrick Kane and Dave Bolland on the ice, the Blackhawks were outscored by a 4:3 margin and out-Corsied (Corsi measure all shot attempts and shows which end of the ice the puck is in) 5:4. With Kane on the ice and no Bolland, the Blackhawks outscored the opposition 3:2 and out-Corsied them 4:3.The results (shown in the link above) were very similar for Patrick Sharp with and without Bolland.

Putting that into English: a line of Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp were crushed by the opposition despite playing on a very good team. That same unit, minus Dave Bolland, was dominant. Bolland fell to fourth line duty in the playoffs. Bolland’s only 27 but plays a physically intense style with a slight frame (6’, 184 pounds) and any team acquiring him runs the risk that this year was the beginning of the new trend with Bolland rather than an aberration.

The Bottom Line

Dave Bolland has been a very, very good hockey player in recent years, but his struggles in 2013 make him a risk – and any team acquiring him should refuse to pay market value given that risk. The Blackhawks, while evidently interested primarily in future rather than current assets, are asking for a hefty return for Bolland’s services. It simply doesn’t make sense for a team like Edmonton to offer up that kind of package for an uncertain return.

Recently around the Nation Network

Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced they were going to buy out Vincent Lecavalier, and fans in 29 other cities immediately started wondering if he might be a fit for their team. In Vancouver, it appears that general manager Mike Gillis has definite interest:

Needless to say Lecavalier will have plenty of suitors, including the Canucks to hear Pierre LeBrun tell it on the Team 1050 on Thursday. "The Canucks front office has already talked to John Tortorella about this," Lebrun passed along on Thursday, "and they see this as a possible fit if they can get out of cap hell, which they're in now."

Click the link to read more, or alternately, feel free check out some of my other pieces here:

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Jonathan Willis is a freelance writer. He currently works for Oilers Nation, the Edmonton Journal and Bleacher Report. He's co-written three books and worked for myriad websites, including Grantland, ESPN, The Score, and Hockey Prospectus. He was previously the founder and managing editor of Copper & Blue.
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#51 Smokey
June 28 2013, 11:59AM
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CaptainLander wrote:

In theory it sounds good, but Pit will want one of the 4 forwards or schultz plus ,will not be worth it.

Ebs, Marincin and the 7th is likley the asking price

On top of that 7.5 or 8 mil, for 8 years? He is good, very good but is he Webber good?

I know your suggesting, but Letang could command Eberle straight up, nothing else, squat. Elite first liner for elite.dman, Why the add ons I figure. I would not do it on the basis I'd rather have Eberle over an inflated over-rated dman. Letang is.great, but is sketchy defensively and injury prone. Don't want, price too high. Give Schultz 2 years and we got our Letang.

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#52 Bushed
June 28 2013, 12:28PM
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Change the name to Bickell and then let's talk.

Otherwise, agree with Willis--no to Bolland.

Letang is interesting, but the 8 years scares me way more than the $7M+.

Even superstars' play declines over time, but GMs are forgetting to ask will player X be this good 5-8-10 or more years from now?

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#53 madjam
June 28 2013, 01:04PM
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No to Bolland and Letang whom we'll never get anyways . Yes to Coburn and he could be cheaper than expected if Philly can convince Oilers not to take Ristolainen . Side deal could be we take Risto at 7th, and trade him and a second , for Coburn and their first at 11 . Buff hot after Risto as well , and will probably use their second pick for a goalie by the sounds of it .

Holmgren showed his hand when he said Risto and Jones are the only two defenceman NHL ready .

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#54 misfit
June 28 2013, 01:29PM
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More often than not, I find myself agreeing with Willis' take on players, but I have to disagree pretty strongly here. I would consider Bolland to be an almost ideal fit. No doubt he had a bad year, but I'm more inclined to take his performances of the 3 years prior, which are all excellent (played tougher minutes with lesser players and the WOWY), than a single lockout-shortened season that was further shortened by injury that had him produce bad results.

I have no trouble believing that he could find himself return to his 2009-2012 level next season and for years to come, and that player is an elite 3rd line center. Something we could certainly use. Not only do I think he'd be an excellent fit, I don't think giving up Pominville-like package is out of the question unless that package included the #7 overall.

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#55 MKE
June 28 2013, 02:23PM
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misfit wrote:

More often than not, I find myself agreeing with Willis' take on players, but I have to disagree pretty strongly here. I would consider Bolland to be an almost ideal fit. No doubt he had a bad year, but I'm more inclined to take his performances of the 3 years prior, which are all excellent (played tougher minutes with lesser players and the WOWY), than a single lockout-shortened season that was further shortened by injury that had him produce bad results.

I have no trouble believing that he could find himself return to his 2009-2012 level next season and for years to come, and that player is an elite 3rd line center. Something we could certainly use. Not only do I think he'd be an excellent fit, I don't think giving up Pominville-like package is out of the question unless that package included the #7 overall.

Giving up a Pominville like package for a guy who's career high was 47 points...5 years ago!?!?

The last 3 seasons before this year he had 16, 37, and 37.

You do not give up that kind of package for a guy who at his best is a good 3rd line center.

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#56 EHH Team
June 28 2013, 02:30PM
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mr common sense wrote:

Letang would be Edm best PLAYER. and no, this doesnt mean i dont like Hall, Ebs, etc....i do. Again, the point I always make.....this city has not had an ace dman since Paul Coffey...so people dont remember how important that player is. Ask the old school how important Coffey was...and how much better he made already good players. Kris Letang will instantly make the Edm offense as dangerous as when gun powder was invented and first used on the battle field. GAME CHANGER

The Oilers didn't crash & burn when Coffey left. They won two more cups. While Coffey was important, he didn't drive the team. Gretsky, Messier, Kurri & Anderson did that. Pronger drove the team in 2006. Letang is no Pronger.

I also disagree with Willis that Letang would be the best player on the team. Within a couple of years, Hall, Nuge & Yak all will be better.

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#57 MKE
June 28 2013, 02:39PM
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@EHH Team

Totally agree. The team that gives Letang 7.5-8 million will be kicking themselves for it

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#58 Neal
June 28 2013, 03:24PM
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Kane plays center in the offensive zone for the Hawks. So Bolland is not the right kind of center to play with Kane. Very few centers are.

Bolland and Toews alternated playing against the other team's top centers. When Toews did it, Q had Hossa on the captain's wing. Bolland would take on the other team's top lines while playing with Sharp and Kane. The Patricks are two of the worst defensive wingers on the Hawks.

Bolland was misused this sesason by Q. The Hawks want to play top two lines against top two lines. Bolland isn't a fit for that approach. Bolland plays the top lines from the checking role. He will be an asset wherever he ends up.

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#59 Thrush
June 28 2013, 05:14PM
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Shouldn't they be looking for the next player to score a Stanley cup winning goal not the last player. He still has game left but two cups on his resume, I would rather a role player with none.

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#60 Zarny
June 28 2013, 07:17PM
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The cost of the trade is only half the question. What will Bolland resign for after next season? There is only so much you pay a 3rd line C.

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#61 Next up, is Connor McJesus.
June 28 2013, 08:43PM
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It's a small step from, he won't be a perfect fit here, to, we'll take anyone with a pulse please.

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