Just saw someone claim Matt Stajan is better than Tyler Bozak. Hands down the funniest thing I’ve read in months… #Leafs
— Anthony Nicholson (@N24Nicholson) August 12, 2013
Funny thing about this claim, by any reasonable metric it’s 100% right. In the 55 games that Matt Stajan had his time overlap with Phil Kessel’s in Toronto Matt Stajan put up 41 points, a .745ppg pace, and not one that was entirely dependent on Kessel as Stajan was one of many centres rotated onto Kessel’s line. Arguably it was these numbers that made him capable of being a key piece in the deal that would bring Phaneuf to Toronto.
When you add in the games that Stajan played in Calgary that year, he would finish the season with 57 points (.69ppg), his career high, and the second time he would produce more than 50 points in a season during his career. Comparatively Bozak has one season that he has broken the 40 point plateau despite receiving more ice time than Stajan and playing with better linemates.
If you look at Stajan’s career point production at the same age as Bozak’s it is clear that with the exception of Bozak’s anomalous rookie campaign that Stajan is more offensively gifted. Perhaps there are other places where Bozak could close the gap.
Tyler Bozak ended last season with 1:38 ATOI on the PK unit to Stajan’s 1:57, but Bozak is averaging 7 seconds more a night than Stajan played when he was a Leaf. Bozak also sees 15 more seconds a night on the powerplay than Stajan had when he was a Leaf, though Stajan had 13 power play points with the Leafs that season to Bozak’s 9 in 46 games this season.
Since so much is made of Bozak’s faceoff ability it seems necessary to address this despite the minimal impact on overall performance. If you look at faceoffs last season it would appear that Stajan struggled with a 46.2% win percentage while Bozak had a solid season with a 52.6%, though there’s a funny thing about that too. Previous to this season Stajan never had below a 51% win percentage, and his last two seasons in Toronto he had 51.4% and 51.6%, both consistent with his career average. So the advantage we’ll give Bozak is he’s capable of winning two more faceoffs out of a hundred. That doesn’t seem overly significant especially when you consider how little Bozak can do with the puck once he gains control of it.
In 2009-10 when Matt Stajan centred Phil Kessel, Kessel’s Corsi On was +9.4. Hasn’t had a positive Corsi any season with Bozak.
— Draglikepull (@draglikepull) August 12, 2013
Looking at each player’s usage chart it supports the notion that Stajan has been consistently better than Bozak, though both are coming off of ridiculous campaigns that saw Stajan with a PDO of 1022 and Bozak with 1027.
Now that’s not to say that Matt Stajan didn’t struggle during his first couple of seasons in Calgary and find himself in the lower half of the forward group during those seasons he did. That’s also not to say that Bozak playing with Kessel didn’t outscore Stajan this season. He did. Even if you still think Bozak is better than Stajan it’s important to note that this is a player who was rumoured to be having the final year of his $3.5m a season deal bought out and compared to a player who just received a 5 year $4.25m a season deal signed and for there to only be marginal differences is discouraging. Stajan did have the better numbers age 23-26 and had better numbers with the Leafs than Bozak. I’m sure the Flames are happy to be done with Stajan when he is 30 at the end of the season. The Leafs are committed to Bozak until he’s 32, 5 years away.
Congratulations Tyler Bozak for making me long for the days of having Matt Stajan as a first line centre. You truly are the worst.