From Beauchemin to Stalberg, we're taking a look at and grading (please read the criteria below) the 2009-10 season for every player who laced 'em up for the Maple Leafs for a significant number of games during the campaign, with an eye towards 2010-11. That means only guys that are still property of the Maple Leafs. We're doing this in concert with Maple Leafs Hot Stove. Next up, Tyler Bozak.
#42 / Center / Toronto Maple Leafs
Mar 19, 1986
Years in NHL: 1
Became a Leaf: Signed as a free agent; Spring of 2009.
Contract Status: 1 year left on 2 year deal; $3.725M cap hit.
|2009 - Tyler Bozak||37||8||19||27||-5||6||2||0||1||0||51||15.7|
The Summary: Tyler Bozak picked the Maple Leafs over the Ottawa Senators so right away it's clear that he has a high hockey IQ. He signed a hell of a deal that, based on how people react to Mikhail Grabovski, will be tough to live up to. He'll likely get a break because if he costs the full cap hit he'll presumably have achieved some decent points totals. Not to mention, his age and provenenance as a found player in addition to an electric understanding with Phil Kessel likely gets him a free pass. A solid first half season in the NHL certainly bodes well for the young centreman.
Read entire post before voting. More after the jump.
Bozak finished 11th in rookie scoring in the NHL despite only playing 37 games (12 too many to qualify as a rookie next year). His point per game pace would have netted him 60 points over a full season and likely the Calder Trophy. After watching two months of Matt Stajan and John Mitchell trying to form a partnership with Phil Kessel, Bozak stepped in and made it look like they were long-lost linemates.
While riding shotgun with Kessel and Nikolai Kulemin he faced the toughest quality of competition among the Leafs' forwards. He also had the third best shooting percentage behind the now departed Matt Stajan and Jay Rosehill. Had a 55.2% success rate at the face-off dot which is amazing for a rookie. This is a skill that can be improved by practice so it bodes well as a start. His GVT was only 3.5 but that's for only half of a season.
He's 24 and he doesn't shoot enough. For a skilled, fast forward Bozak only drew five penalties. Christian Hanson, Viktor Stalberg, and John Mitchell all drew penalties at a higher rate per 60 minutes of even-strength ice-time. While he did face the best competition he also had the best linemates when he was on the ice. Despite getting over three and a half minutes on the powerplay Bozak only put up 1.86pts/60. That's terrible.
A bout with the flu (possibly of the swine variety) waylaid the start to his professional hockey career. It compounded the fact that he was coming off of major knee surgery. That meant that his permanent debut in the NHL was delayed until January 12th after a cameo appearance in an October 13th game. It basically cost him the Calder Trophy since he simply ran out of games.
Rate Bozak below on a scale of 1-10 (10 being the best) based on his performance relative to his potential and your expectations for the season - if he had the best year you could have imagined him having, give him a 10; if he more or less played as you expected he would, give him a 5 or a 6; if he had the worst year you could have imagined him having, give him a 1.
Is Bozak the answer long-term to the search for Phil Kessel's running mate? Should Burke be looking to sign Bozak as soon as possible or does he wait to get a larger sample size?