We’re about an hour away from free agency, but it might be a trade that defines Toronto’s day as opposed to a signing.
According to TSN’s Darren Dreger, appearing on TSN 1050, the Arizona Coyotes appear to be interested in acquiring the Maple Leafs’ Tyler Bozak.
Leading up to the NHL Entry Draft, Toronto has reportedly set an asking price on Bozak, looking for a second round pick in exchange for the 29-year old centre’s services. It should be noted that the Coyotes do own their 2016 second round pick, and have a pretty stocked prospect pool.
Why do the Leafs want to do this? Well, besides Bozak being horribly miscast as a top line centre, and despite owning a $4.2M cap hit for the next three years, Toronto does have depth down the middle with Nazem Kadri, Peter Holland, Leo Komarov and Casey Bailey all under contract. No, that’s not a stable of centres that are going to win you a Stanley Cup, but it’s a fine group for a rebuilding team that has no playoff aspirations.
Arizona, needing to add to their payroll so that they meet the salary floor, are also not terribly deep at the centre position. Bozak would likely form some sort of 1-2 (soft) punch down the middle with Martin Hanzal, while centre prospects like Max Domi and Dylan Strome continue to develop.
It should be noted that according to Thought #22 from Elliotte Friedman, Bozak does have a limited no-trade clause that allows him to submit a list of 12 teams to the Leafs that he’d accept a trade to. I’d be surprised if Arizona was on that list, to be completely honest.
Check back at TLN for continuing coverage of the Leafs’ free agency activity.