It’s not easy being a hockey player.
Less than 5 days ago, Dave Bolland scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks. Now, he is reported to be on the trade block.
Bolland is billed as 6’0″, 185 lb. The Blackhawks use him in a defensive role as a forward. He is used on tough defensive zone draws, and can be counted on to play great against the opponent’s heaviest offensive firepower. He earned the nickname ‘The Rat’ with affection from Blackhawks fans, after pestering San Jose Sharks forward Joe Thornton to no end during the Blackhawks’ 2010 Cup run.
Bolland has played his position well since arriving full-time to the club in 2007, but his production dropped off in 2013. He scored 7 goals and added 7 more assists for 14 points in 35 games, a .4 point-per-game average that is lower than in recent years, despite the Blackhawks’ success. Bolland has never scored 20 goals or more in a season, (19 in 2009 and 2012) but always seems to elevate his game during the playoffs. This held true this season, where he was very effective defensively, and even got on the score-sheet during the finals, where Bolland put up 5 points in 6 games of the Stanley Cup Final, including his Cup-winning goal.
His name came up in trade rumors after ESPN Hockey Analyst Pierre LeBrun made this tweet:
Heard from another team that the Blackhawks are shopping center Dave Bolland…
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 27, 2013
Bolland has one year remaining on his contract, which will see $3.75 million count towards the Blackhawks’ shrinking salary cap in 2013-14.
Trading Bolland might not be as easy as one would think, however. Behind the glitz and glamour of his Cup-clinching goal lies a disappointing regular season, where he struggled at faceoffs so much that the Blackhawks traded for Michal Handzus to give the second line more puck possession. Many NHL GMs looking for a quality center will not be interested in Bolland due to his dip in stats this season. This leaves teams that have one or two established pivots, and are looking to add a solid bottom-six center for the long run, if they can get Bolland re-signed in the following off-season.
I think that putting Bolland’s name in trade conversation is a good move by Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman. If #36 doesn’t have a bounce-back year in 2013-14, the ‘Hawks are unlikely to resign, and he will walk out as a free agent the following summer, leaving the Blackhawks with nothing in return. They could package a deal with youthful teams such as the Columbus Blue Jackets for a prospect/draft pick, and be looking at a stronger future. However, if they indeed trade Bolland, they will lose much depth at center behind Selke Trophy winner Jonathan Toews, with aging Handzus becoming an UFA on July 5th, and young Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger being the two most likely candidates to fill the void. Bolland does have the opportunity to put up bigger numbers next season, and if he stays with the Hawks next season and this happens, he could generate some interest at the 2014 trade deadline if Bowman is still unwilling to put pen to paper with Bolland.
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