Use the Janice voice and say it with me: “Oh. My. God.”
In a Tuesday edition of Insider Trading on TSN, Darren Dreger unveiled what we’ll call his “Big Board.”
“First of all,” Dreger began. “(Maple Leafs general manager) Dave Nonis has reached out to a number of general managers to say, ‘you know what, we’re not ready to put the for sale sign up just yet, but get your offers ready. If there’s a particular player you want, get your offers ready because we’re going to do that at any time moving forward in the days ahead.'”
On the block are some of the nams we’d expect, including Cody Franson and Daniel Winnik. Tyler Bozak at 60 percent though? All caps: WOW.
Bozak has often received a bit of a rough ride at this humble Maple Leafs web log, in part as a result of former Leafs bench boss Randy Carlyle’s staunch reluctance to ever split him up from his mate – both room and line – Phil Kessel.
Over the past four years Bozak had produced even-strength offense at a rate comparable to some pretty good players, including Kyle Turris, Ryan O’Reilly, and Mike Cammalleri. The problem is, he’s managed that level production while tied to one of the best offensive players of the past half decade.
Without Kessel, the picture is bleak. In nearly 700 minutes away from Kessel at 5-on-5 over the past five seasons, Bozak has managed a grand total of 11 even-strength points. Meanwhile the Maple Leafs have been outscored nearly 2:1, and have controlled just a tick better than 40 percent of shot attempts. That’s replacement level production and two-way play.
In truth Bozak is probably somewhere inbetween a Turris/Cammalleri quality first-line point producer, and a replacement level nogoodnick. He’s got solid hands, decent speed, can kill penalties, factor in reasonably well on the power-play, and win some draws. There’s utility in that.
“Many might think that the 60 percent is a little high (for Bozak),” Dreger captioned, “but because of his cap number, there will be lots of interest in him.”
What he’s demonstrably not is the sort of table-setting first-line centre that can help a good team tilt the ice in a favourable direction. If the Maple Leafs can find a trade partner who’ll value him like a top-six centreman on the market, it very probably makes sense to deal him – particularly considering the club’s cap crunch, and the need to sign Nazem Kadri to an extension this offseason.
As for some of the other names on this list, we covered the logic behind a possible Joffrey Lupul trade earlier this week. Lupul’s contract could prove a sticking point, particularly because of his extended injury history, but if the Maple Leafs can find a taker – that’s a deal that makes sense as they look to clear the decks for whatever it is that Brendan Shanahan, Kyle Dubas, Cam Charron (just kidding) and company have in store.
Finally we get to the lower end of the list, which includes Kessel, Dion Phaneuf and even Kadri. That there’s a roughly 1-in-3 shot of the Maple Leafs dealing Kadri is likely to cause some alarm bells to go off in southern Ontario, but realistically those odds are only 10 percent higher than the likelihood of the club dealing their best player and their captain. So whatever.
The takeaway, really, is that the Maple Leafs are open for business. As a team that can’t even consistently contend for a postseason spot and has a payroll at the upper limit of the salary cap, they should be.