Last season, Dave Bolland looked bad. With great linemates (Kane and Sharp), decent OZone starts (49.6%), and a Corsi On of -11.67 (and Corsi On of -11.67), my knee-jerk reaction to his acquisition was strongly negative. Paying this guy $3.5M to be a 3rd or 4th line C sounded like the kind of thing the Blackhawks should have given the Leafs draft picks to do. Fortunately, Dave Nonis might have simply bought low on this one.
In previous seasons, however, Bolland's OZone starts were in the mid-30's, and his Corsi On wasn't awful. Sure, his Corsi Rel still looks bad, but that's because the rest of his team was playing easier minutes and are elite level talent.
|Year||Corsi On||OZone Starts||Corsi Rel QoC||Linemate 1||Linemate 2||Linemate 3|
|2012-2013||-11.67||49.60%||1.237||PATRICK KANE||PATRICK SHARP||JOHN ODUYA|
|2011-2012||-1.35||32.50%||1.386||BRYAN BICKELL||BRENT SEABROOK||DUNCAN KEITH|
|2010-2011||-4.3||34.20%||1.353||BRYAN BICKELL||BRENT SEABROOK||DUNCAN KEITH|
It's not like Bolland managed to completely turn the Corsi tide against tough competition and low OZone starts, but it certainly looks like he has the ability to play tough minutes, which frees up the likes of Kadri and Grabovski to play more offensive minutes. Let's hope this is how Carlyle plans on using Bolland.
At first, I wasn't crazy about a third line centre earning close to $3.5M, but if he's going to continue to put up 0.5 ppg (and we have no reason to believe he won't), we can't complain about that. Furthermore, since he only has one more year left on his current deal, he can take a pay cut or ship out in the event that things don't work out for him in Toronto. Handing the third line reins to Joe Colborne might have been cheaper, but ultimately would have been more risky, especially since it would leave the Leafs with a big hole to fill in the event of injury.
This signing probably signals the end of Dave Nonis' efforts to improve the Leafs at centre over this off-season, but given that the Leafs scored often enough to be 6th in goals for last year, that's probably OK. I'm sure if another, superior option comes along that allows the Leafs to improve in their top six they won't turn it down, so for now let's just hope that this means the end of Tyler Bozak in Toronto.
So, in summary, if the Leafs wind up with Dave Bolland from last season, it'll suck, but a 2nd round pick and two 4ths aren't such a terrible loss. If, on the other hand, he proves to be a good fit - and most of his career suggests he'll do better than last year - then the Leafs made a good deal.