On the heels of the Clarke MacArthur signing the Maple Leafs also tied down another RFA by inking Tyler Bozak to a reported two-year deal worth $3 million. That means that his cap hit will come down from $3.725M to $1.5M over the next two years. This season Bozak will be looked to as a depth player instead of the #1 pivot, and a third line center who scores 15 goals for $1.5M seems like a good addition to the team. Perhaps Toronto gets lucky and Bozak progresses this season into a strong two-way center to give the Leafs some depth at the position.
Much more on Bozak after the jump.
#42 / Center / Toronto Maple Leafs
Mar 19, 1986
Favourite Pastime: Call of Duty with other Leafs
The first question is pretty easy to answer. Right now, assuming that Matthew Lombardi's recovery will continue to take much longer than expected and that Burke needs to catch a breather after so much action (maybe a trip to Iraq?), Bozak slots into the role of third line centre on the Buds behind Tim Connolly and Mikhail Grabovski. The addition of Connolly and John-Michael Liles means that he's likely also seen the end of the plethora of powerplay time he was seeing. In terms of results, he was producing the least among Leafs forwards that played 40 games and averaged over 1.5 minutes of PP time a game. The flip side of the coin is that when the Leafs were on the powerplay there was a really good chance that a penalty he had drawn had given them the advantage. His + 13 penalty rating was tied with Clarke MacArthur among forwards that played at least 40 games and averaged at least 10 minutes of ice time.
One place where Bozak might play a larger role will be on the penalty kill. Among Leafs forwards that played at least 40 games and averaged at least 1.5 minutes per game Bozak gave up the fewest goals per 60 minutes of ice time. His strength in the face-off circle will be a valuable tool on the penalty kill. At even strength, the numbers are truly dire. Among the forwards that played at least 40 games and averaged at least 10 minute of ice time his point production was dead last: 0.99 Pts/60.
The above chart comes from JP's post on individual shot locations. These are the shots that Bozak took at 5-on-5 in road games. The reason these were chosen were to reduce as much as possible any scorer's effect. From this stats you can tell that he isn't shooting enough. I would attribute that to the pressure of playing with Phil Kessel and the assumption that his role is solely as a set-up man. When he does shoot, he is pretty good as his shooting percentage attests and he finds the right areas as the graph above shows.
|2010 - Tyler Bozak||82||15||17||32||-29||14||6||1||4||120||12.5|
The plus minus is an ugly figure but Bozak also had the lowest PDO of qualifying forwards (40+ games, min 10:00 TOI) at .970. This number's expected to move towards 1.000 but it was dragged down by a low on-ice save percentage. That alone could provide some simple improvement.
Overall, this is a good signing even if it is much higher than before. Much of the reason that Tyler Bozak was so maligned last year was because people misunderstood his cap hit as being $3.75M. They expected a player earning that salary to produce much more in the time he was provided. The reality is that last year he was likely making just over $1M. What do people expect a player of that calibre to produce? His results sure seem to align with what might be reasonable. This year his salary, his public cap hit (so easy anyone can now understand it) and his role will align much better. With Connolly providing some shielding Bozak can continue to build on the progress he has made over his first 119 games in the NHL. Maybe he'll score more goals like this one: