Yesterday the Toronto Maple Leafs bought out Mikhail Grabovski, they bring back one of their own to help ease the pain.
The team has re-signed centre Tyler Bozak to a five-year, $21 million contract ($4.2 million per season). Bozak, a Regina, Saskatchewan native, has played all three seasons of his NHL career in Toronto after being signed as an undrafted college free agent from he University of Denver. Bozak scored a total of 134 points in 238 career NHL games being used as the number 1 centre for star winger Phil Kessel. Bozak’s numbers have gotten progressively better each year in the NHL, aside from last year, obviously due to the lockout shortened season but was on pace for 49 points (two points more than his total from 2011-2012).
The contract is definitely not what I expected. I really thought that the Maple Leafs would go to the $5 million per year range to keep Bozak. Does that mean I like the money they gave him? Oh no. They still overpaid for a below-average player who is definitely not a number 1 centre. But of course people will say he has chemistry with Phil Kessel and to that I say there is statistical evidence to prove Kessel is better without him. Sure he wins face-offs, but that alone is not worth $21 million. He’s average on defense, below-average on offense, good at face-offs. That’s it. That’s not worth that kind of money. The only reason I keep Bozak is to sign Phil Kessel later. Don’t get me wrong, I like Bozak. He seems like a nice enough guy, but he’s not a player you want as the number 1 centre. Now, if he was a third line centre, I would love him. He’d be a great third line centre and they wouldn’t have to pay him that kind of money. But apparently the front office values friendship over actual skill (Mikhail Grabovski).
The Maple Leafs made another splash shortly after the Bozak re-signing, bringing in David Clarkson.
Clarkson was, arguably, the best free agent on the market (I certainly wouldn’t say that, but some would) and he signs with the Maple Leafs for a, get ready for this, seven-year, $36.75 million which includes a limited no trade clause and a no movement clause. Clarkson, a Toronto native, spent all of his six NHL seasons with the New Jersey Devils. In those six season, he totaled 170 points in 426 games as well as 770 penalty minutes. As many will most certainly point out, Clarkson scored 30 goals in 2011-2012 and was on pace for 25 goals this past season. So two things are certain with Clarkson, he scores goals and fights a lot.
If you were to ask me the two things I didn’t want from the Maple Leafs coming into today, my top two were “re-signing Tyler Bozak” and, of course, “signing David Clarkson.” The Maple Leafs did both today. Fantastic. I will say I’m not happy with the money but the worst part is the term. I can’t wrap my head around signing a 29-year old for seven years. Sure he scored 30 goals, but I can safely bet he will not do that again. Clarkson will slot in on the second line right wing spot alongside Nazem Kadri and either James van Riemsdyk or Joffrey Lupul. Wow, can you imagine van Riemsdyk and Clarkson together? Some pretty physical players there. That’s probably the only positive thing I can say about that.
The Maple Leafs certainly aren’t done as they still need a defenseman and a bottom six winger, as well as signing restricted free agents like Jonathan Bernier and Kadri. So expect some movement from the Leafs in the coming days.
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