James DiBianco on Flickr
It’s no secret that Tyler Bozak is the odd one out this summer for the Toronto Maple Leafs. With Toronto’s center depth and Tyler Bozak’s impending UFA status, the move is obvious.
As his age heightens, the only thing that Bozak could possibly do next season for the Maple Leafs is take minutes away from Auston Matthews. Although his current ability of play is far from bad, the prospect of acquiring a defender and sending Tyler Bozak the other way is even more appealing.
If you were to say the Maple Leafs’ defensive core is in good shape for next season, you would be making a false claim. As they are set to begin play with a rather similar defensive core to last years’ dismal group, the lack of stable defending could hinder the Maple Leafs’ chances at taking the next step.
That’s where Bozak comes in.
As the first month of the NHL’s free agency comes to a fold, Tyler Bozak has picked up some speculation on the trade market. Early in the summer, Larry Brooks of the New York Post made this statement:
If the Maple Leafs’ addition of Marleau prompts the club to solicit offers for Tyler Bozak, the 31-year-old center whose average ice time has declined from 20:57 to 16:26 over the past four seasons, expect the Rangers to be among the interested parties.
Nick Holden likely would be the opening ante to get in on Bozak, a one-year right-handed rental at $4.2 million who habitually has excelled at the dots.
And sure enough, the Rangers’ center core is as weak as can be. Due to a deal that sent former top 6 center Derek Stepan out the door, talent is thin down the middle behind Mika Zibenejad.
But with all things – there’s a catch. The acquisition of Tyler Bozak would prompt the buy-out of Marc Staal in New York, which doesn’t seem likely. Also, as Nick Holden is a left-shot defenseman and Toronto is rather impressively talented on the left side, acquiring him would simply be befuddling.
The same implication exists with the reported Maata for Bozak swap in Pittsburgh. The optics of it make no sense for Toronto.
Although Tyler Bozak has probably been dangled around by the Maple Leafs’ management, there’s simply no fit.
If the Maple Leafs were to acquire a defender from Vegas, it would be baffling to see Tyler Bozak among the players that the Golden Knights would want to acquire. For about half of the teams in the league, that same argument could be made.
Seeing as Toronto has been begging to bring in centres for the past half decade, selling Tyler Bozak would mean entering the land of the unknown.
At the end of the day, many people forget that Toronto’s playoff berth was backed by an almost injury free season. Keeping Tyler Bozak could end up being Toronto’s saving grace. Nobody really knows.