Some thoughts on Bozak, MacArthur and buyouts

A full assembly of NHL general managers are kicking around Boston this week for annual meetings. The group approved the rule tweaks proposed by the competition committee, which involved shallower nets and hybrid icing [links to come when it’s more than just tweets] but those still have yet to be approved by the Board of Governors.

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Regular muckraker and Sportsnet reporter Chris Johnston is kicking around the scene and got a couple of good quotes from Leafs GM Dave Nonis, while Nick Kypreos snapped the above picture of Nonis and new Oilers GM Craig MacTavish “POSSIBLY TALKING ABOUT A DEFENCEMAN FOR A PICK”. There could be a few “agreements in principle” made this week to be announced once the Stanley Cup Finals are over, but so far the Leafs have been quiet.

Anyway, those quotes.


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Good news and bad news. It will be a shame to see Clarke MacArthur go, especially after his excellent playoffs when he was able to finally get a regular shift. That said, everything you read now seems to point to Tyler Bozak’s days with the Leafs being numbered.

I really have no idea what Bozak will or thinks he can make on the open market, but a 27-year-old that plays 20 minutes a game, regardless of production, is probably due to earn a little bit of coin. I’ll have more on Bozak Thursday morning, but basically it will be addition by subtraction. I think the guy does have some value as a third liner somewhere, but in Toronto him and the first line are joined at the hip and he’s never lost that job.


Oh, this is fun.

Who are the buy-out options? We looked at this back in January before the NHL and NHLPA put together an agreement, but after the possibility of two amnesty buy-outs was floated. We came up with John-Michael Liles and Mike Komisarek, but that was in the interest of loading up to make big pitches at Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf, so…

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Toronto has just five contracts that last past this upcoming season: Mikhail Grabovski, James van Riemsdyk, Liles, and then this year’s extensions to Colton Orr and Joffrey Lupul. Point being, there aren’t any anchor contracts bringing the whole team’s cap situation down.

Unless the team wants to spend to the cap, it may be worth buying out Liles and keeping Mike Komisarek, trying to leverage a trade for a bad contract packaged with a good player. The Leafs have both money and cap space, so using both amnesty buy-outs this summer could shut down some possibilities in 2014 when it comes to buying out contracts signed by other teams.

I’d say there are arguments for keeping both Liles and Komisarek, who are the two main targets. Liles may be productive, and it’s worth giving him at least another season to prove himself, especially since replacing him may cost just as much as the cap space you save by buying him out. Komisarek makes $3,500,000 this season (his cap hit is $3,575,000) and is then finished. As bad of a deal it was, I’ll reiterate that unless you plan to use the space there’s no point in doing it unless you’re the new team owners and are determined to save a little over a million bucks in actual money.

The way I see the Leafs using the buy-out window is looking at a team like Philadelphia. The Flyers could buy out Ilya Bryzgalov, Danny Briere, Scott Hartnell or Nik Grossman and would be justified. But they can only get two of them, so my idea would be to have the Leafs take one of them off the Flyers’ hands along with a prospect.

The buy-out window lasts until July 4 this year, and the next day is the free agent frenzy, but there’s also another amnesty window in 2014 where the Leafs may want to concentrate their activity. Wait until a team does something they really regret.

The quote is also interesting because GMs tend to waffle around that sort of language involving buy-outs. These are two transferable Get out of Jail free cards they’ve been given, and you’d hope that Nonis thinks long and hard on how he’s going to use them.

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  • Miker

    Looking forward to your Bozak piece.

    Personally I like the idea of adding a checking 3C to free up Grabbo from his terrible but necessary zone starts and who would still continue to allow Kadri to be sheltered.

    Failing that, then the question of 1C gets tougher. Does Nonis try trade for a 1C/2C(Statsny) or solve it via UFA (Weiss)? Does he try to sign Bozak (or Gagne) on a bridge contract and develop/draft an internal prospect?

    I’m for upgrading Bozak, but saying that misses a bit of reality. The way I see it

    – Nonis plan A can’t be to slot in Colborne for Bozak (maybe that is plan F)
    – Nonis would like Weiss or maybe Ribiero but probably not at the UFA cost/term required.
    – Nonis would love Statsny but probably not at selling the leaf prospects and picks
    – Nonis might like Gagne but may not want to risk that first line on a player whose play has declined and is weaker defensively. And so staying with an imperfect Bozak is a better risk/reward.
    – Nonis probably doesn’t want to give Bozak, grabbo kind of money either.

    That is more like the problem and choices Nonis faces with addressing #1C and it is tough making these tradeoffs in real time and under schedule constraints.

  • Miker

    The option of the Leafs trading for one of the Flyers buyout candidates is intriguing but might be a tough sell to ownership… especially if it’s Hartnell or Bryz. Basically you’re paying $25M-35M in cash for a draft pick/prospect?!

    Note: as a Leafs fan, I’m cool with it.