Leafs acquire Dave Bolland from Chicago

Hmm…


Very difficult to gauge how I feel about this one.

From one perspective, it’s nice to see that the Toronto Maple Leafs added an NHLer to their roster without giving up an NHLer in return. Second and fourth round picks don’t usually amount to much, and it takes a lot of luck and patience. Bolland is a player who will immediately fit on the Leafs roster, signed at $3.375M for the next year before going to UFA.

Bolland was an excellent defensive defenceman for the Blackhawks until this season, when a really rough year forced him onto Chicago’s fourth line. That said, he’s a centreman who generally kept the Blackhawks above water on the third line while Joel Quenneville gave heavy offensive zone starts to stars like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane. Defensively, he’s a player. Offensively, he’s limited.

Think David Steckel, with a little more offence. It’s not like Bolland is a total slouch. He scored 19 goals in 2012 and 15 in 2011. By looking at offence relative to situation, Bolland is certainly better than Tyler Bozak. He did better in defensive minutes for the Blackhawks than Bozak managed in offensive ones. For this reason, it’s easy to get on board with the deal, even if expectations for Bolland are limited.

We’ll have more later this summer, just as a way to see how Bolland fits into the team. Immediately, he’s a much, much better third line centreman option than Mikhail Grabovski or Nazem Kadri. Either of those should be bumped onto the Leafs first line to play alongside Phil Kessel. As a third liner, Bolland is a steady checker with offensive punch that fits well into Randy Carlyle’s zone-matching system. He will take a lot of defensive zone draws, so I don’t see him as the first line centreman option that Dave Nonis talked about getting, but if it moves Kadri and Grabovski up the depth chart, Toronto won’t need that 1C any more.

The other good thing is that it essentially means Tyler Bozak is out. Bolland will be cheaper and provides more goals and points per 60 minutes. While Bob MacKenzie was saying that Bolland isn’t a 1st liner and Bozak is… well, Bolland is closer to fitting the bill. But he slots in better as a third liner.

Actually, writing about it more, the more I like the deal. Bolland was a guy who was instrumental for the Blackhawks in 2010, 2011 and 2012, and fell off a cliff this season. I’m not going to judge a player based on 48 games, but he’s better than Bozak, better than Steckel, and fills a positional need for the Leafs without giving up much value.