It’s the most wonderful window of the year. Teams have been free to speak to any and all UFAs since 12:01 on June 24th. Contrary to the buzz and fan attention, there are other free agents out there whose name doesn’t start with John and end in Tavares.
But the Leafs have been ALL over those discussions (to Lou Lamoriello’s annoyance).
Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk are the two-headed monster to come out of Toronto as far as free agents go. One had a career high in goals with 36 — which included a stretch of 5 goals in 2 games — while the other did his best to not get on Mike Babcock’s nerves too much.
All jokes aside, it’s no surprise when you comb over the numbers and usage and see that Bozak and JVR were two of, if not the most, sheltered forwards on the Leafs.
- Zone Starts (5v5): JVR - 62.7% (O) vs. 37.3% (D) / Bozak - 57.2% (O) vs. 42.8% (D)
- QoC CF% (5v5): JVR - 49.53 / Bozak - 49.51
Hate to kick them when they’re on their way out, but that was the reality. Fortunately, JVR and Bozak are drawing interest from other teams while the Leafs twiddle their thumbs and hope for the best in the future...
(Optimism is a virtue people).
Although they won’t be on the team any longer, it’s still interesting to imagine what their next jersey will be.
Bozak and Leo Komarov haven’t worn anything else besides the Maple Leaf blue and white. JVR, Dominic Moore, and good ol’ Roman Polak started their careers with other organizations and had their wires crossed with the Leafs in different circumstances.
However, that’s the question: what’s next for them? Seeing as those decisions won’t be brought to the light until 12:01 PM on July 1st, we can only speculate. Or even better, we can place bets.
As you know we at PPP try to have as much fun as we can here, and nothing says laughs and giggles likes placing fake currency on the destination on the Leafs’ UFAs.
Katya may be rubbing those of Mile High Hockey the wrong way with this bet. It would be nice to see Bozak play for his adopted hometown team, but the Avalanche look to be relying on their younger forwards to lead the way.
Nathan MacKinnon had a Hart-worthy season and there is also Alex Kerfoot, Vladislav Kamenev, and Carl Soderberg. Colorado has their veteran option in Soderberg who is set to make $4.75 million for the next two season. You also have to factor in the possibility that Tyson Jost makes the transition to centre ice at some point in 2018.
The Montreal Canadiens have been walking around with signs wishing for centres. That looked to be their goal at the 2018 NHL Draft with the number of players they took at that position. However, the Leafs are a prime example of what happens when Bozak is played higher in the lineup than where he’s meant to be.
Montreal looks to be invested in Jonathan Drouin, Phillip Danault, and Jacob de la Rose as their centre ice guys. If Marc Bergevin sets his sights on Free Agent Frenzy, Paul Stastny or a Tomas Plekanec Homecoming could be their plan.
As far as Calgary goes, there’s an opening on the fourth line with Nick Shore going unqualified. The Flames have a good amount of cap space to work with, but that will probably be reserved for Noah Hanifin and Elias Lindholm who they just acquired not too long ago.
Vancouver is 60% humour and 40% actuality. Jim Benning isn’t a stranger to over doing it on July 1st (Loui Eriksson sends his regards). They also have a whole on centre to fill somewhere in the lineup with the Sedin twins choosing to retire. I haven’t had a good laugh in a while, why not?
When it comes to projecting where JVR signs, it comes down to two things: who needs offence and who has the money.
Columbus could find themselves down a bunch of goals if they choose to move on from Artemi Panarin. Does JVR play the same type of game? Absolutely not. But he can score when it counts, and his presence in front of the net may compliment John Tortorella’s ‘crash and bang’ coaching style.
Species may be playing Team Homer with his bet. Defensively irresponsible he may be, but JVR had 154 goals in his 6 seasons with the Leafs. That said, Kyle Dubas may not want to get himself involved in that messy bidding war.
Vegas makes sense as a destination for the New Jersey native (*cough*). They have a boat load of cap space and roster spots to fill on left wing with both James Neal and David Perron set to test free agency. Seeing as how it would be unnecessary to split that top line of Jon Marchessault, William Karlsson, and Riley Smith, the Golden Knights would have to ask themselves if they’re willing to pay a second line guy $7 million?
Another thing to consider is whether JVR fits with the makeup of the team. Vegas was praised for their, at times, relentless forecheck hammered home through coach Gerrard Gallant’s system. Obviously, that’s not really part of JVR’s MO, but the fit in Nevada may work.
I have to think Hardev’s bet is playing with the ‘Chicago gets everything’ joke. However, the Brandon Saad experiment looked to be a hit for the first 4 games of the season after scoring a hat trick in the team’s opening game against Pittsburgh. He didn’t have the worst numbers at the season’s end (18 goals, 17 assists), but the Blackhawks surely missed Panarin’s bread power.
You run the risk of exposing the warts of JVR’s game by playing him next to Johnathan Toews on the top line and getting the money to work would be another headache for Chicago.
Now, I hope you didn’t miss my cough from mentioning JVR’s hometown earlier. Taylor Hall is the guy in New Jersey, but the Devils could fit another high-scoring left winger on their roster. That power play, 10th in the league firing at 21.43%, would look mighty dangerous with the two of them on it.
Komarov was a top player for the Leafs once upon a time. You know, the season they were one of the best 30th place teams and won the right to select Auston Matthews. Those were the days.
Fast forward to the present time, and Komarov is at best a fourth line option in the NHL. Additionally, NHL coaches may like the ‘sandpaper’ element he brings to the ice. Whether they choose to use him on special teams is their prerogative.
For some reason, Komarov brought out the decimal signs in our bets.
It would depend on what he’s looking for in a future deal. It’s hard to think that he gets anywhere close to the $2.95 million he’s been making for the last four seasons. Teams like Tampa are tight-strapped to raise their hands on this front seeing as how they just extended J.T. Miller for five years at $5.25 million per and have Nikita Kucherov’s deal to work through.
Lou could swing and sign Komarov in an attempt at revenge for Dubas sweet talking Tavares sure and Florida has their fair share of head shaking moves, why not add another to the list.
Good man and good pro Roman Polak became the Leafs defensive Daniel Winnik over the years. It’s sort of like that 90’s hit Tubthumping. Polak got traded, but he came back, then went down with a brutal injury in the 2016 playoffs, but he got back again. Nothing was going to keep him down.
On the bright side, the 2017 second-round pick from the trade that sent him to San Jose was packaged with their second first-rounder from Pittsburgh to acquire Frederik Andersen and the 2018 second-rounder was used to select Sean Durzi 52nd overall.
I’m convinced Hardev wants to see the world burn with his bet on Polak coming back to Toronto.
We still don’t know for sure whether it was Babcock or Lou who wanted Polak back ahead of the 2017-18 season but my suspicions are pointed at the bench boss. Could Lou circle back on him?
Out of all the destinations, I think we’re all secretly hoping it’s Edmonton. If Peter Chiarelli was willing to trade for a Nolan Vesey, then anything is possible really.
Join in on the fun. Where do you think the Leafs UFAs will go? And how much are you willing to put on it?