Jeff Veillette (Jeffler)
May 21 2013 01:54AM
(Tyler Bozak's realistic value to the Toronto Maple Leafs is a dead horse that I intend to beat until you assume it was cremated)
We're inching closer and closer to the start of another off-season, filled with unrestricted free agency, trades, and all of that fun stuff. Of course, there's a lot of debate as to what holes the Leafs need to fill and where they can use an upgrade, but the subject of expiring contracts is clear cut. Despite being rather good at what he does, playoff healthy scratches and decreased regular season minutes have many believing Clarke MacArthur's reign of terribly above average play is coming to an end. Colton Orr, Ryan Hamilton, Ryan O'Bryne, Mike Kostka, and Tim Connolly are all UFA's at the end of the year, but all of those players are easily replaceable at the NHL level. This leaves Tyler Bozak, the team's current first line centre, as the main focus before contracts expire.
As I think we're all perfectly aware of at this point, I don't particularly like the idea of keeping Bozak around. I don't feel that he's particularly productive, and I don't feel that his advantages at the draw make that much of a difference. Others have expressed similar concern with different approaches. But there's still a point that the average fan will bring up, and that's Bozak's chemistry with Phil Kessel, something I don't believe actually exists.
May 20 2013 01:17AM
Image via Mark Staffieri at Ice Hockey Wiki
There's going to be a lack of Toronto Maple Leafs-related news until the conclusion of the Stanley Cup playoffs. This week I'm focusing much of my time tracking zone entries for the Memorial Cup (work will be published over at Yahoo's Buzzing the Net) and only doing so because there is an absolute glut of prospects at the event.
Three of them, Seth Jones, Nathan MacKinnon and Jonathan Drouin, will be well out of reach by the time the Toronto Maple Leafs pick, which could land anywhere between 19 and 22nd, depending on how the second round of the playoffs shakes out. If New York, Ottawa, Detroit and San Jose were all to win their series… that would bump Toronto up to 19th. While that's a possibility, it won't put Toronto high enough up to put them into Drouin territory.
However, there's a familiar name at the Memorial Cup familiar to Leafs fans.
May 17 2013 11:58AM
Clarke MacArthur was picked up for a song late in the 2010 free agency period. There was nothing terribly wrong with MacArthur. He scored 16 goals in a season split between the Atlanta Thrashers and Buffalo Sabres the year before, but apparently, the Thrashers' acquisition of Andrew Ladd that summer made MacArthur an expendable piece.
Ladd has since become the captain of the franchise after the move to Winnipeg, while the team walked away from MacArthur's $2.4-million arbitration award, one they didn't really fight. Reading up on it now, it sounds like the Thrashers terribly mis-managed MacArthur, seeing the 16-goal scorer as a third liner who didn't fit into their system.
The Leafs, who had the cap room, spent the aforementioned song on MacArthur, which ended up being $440K less than the qualifying offer MacArthur rejected. The Leafs re-upped him for two seasons two summers ago, a more appropriate $3.25-million, and he scored 20 goals in 2012 and a pro-rated 16 in 2013.
He's up for free agency again, but there is very little buzz.
May 17 2013 11:00AM
via Claus Anderson/Getty
Okay, maybe that wasn't the *big* news of the day, but it's something that happened. Tyler Bozak, the first-line centreman for the Leafs for the last four years, is an unrestricted free agent this summer and it doesn't sound like the Maple Leafs have a huge interest in bringing him back.
In the playoffs, the Leafs were short-handed for two games without Bozak—games six and seven—and replaced his spot in the lineup with Nazem Kadri and filled Kadri's spot with Joe Colborne. In an effort to stack the deck against Bruins' defenceman Zdeno Chara, Kessel spent a lot of time in the playoffs, pre-Bozak injury, on a line with Kadri while Bozak played with Joffrey Lupul and Matt Frattin as an improvised third line.
Kessel's offence was unaffected by this.
May 16 2013 11:49AM
It was locker clear out day in Toronto Thursday morning, which means the coaches and players are available to talk about the disappointment of not getting the job done.
Randy Carlyle and Dave Nonis also spoke. I'll focus more on Nonis because ultimately, he's the guy who runs the team and makes the final decisions. Nonis is a very reserved talker and is as conservative with words as he is as a manager—it's rare he'll open up or deviate from the script.
Here are Nonis' thoughts on Phil Kessel, the Meltdown, his strategy and what they'll do going into the draft: