The wild off-season has just begun for Stan Bowman and the Chicago Blackhawks. Not yet two weeks removed from winning the Stanley Cup, they have gone through the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, and have executed multiple trades. One of those trades saw Blackhawks center David Bolland go to Toronto for a multitude of draft picks. Now it seems that the Blackhawks would like to fill the hole at center, and Tyler Bozak might be the man for the job.
May 10, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) scores a shorthanded goal past Boston Bruins goalieTuukka Rask
(40) during the second period in game five of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs at TD Garden. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports
With the departure of Bolland, the Blackhawks have a situation at center. 2nd line center Michal Handzus is looking at retirement, and if he decides to stay, he will be unlikely to remain with the Blackhawks as he is set to become an unrestricted free agent on July 5. Young guns Andrew Shaw and Marcus Kruger can fill the void, but they will not have any depth after Selke Trophy winner Jonathan Toews.
The Maple Leafs have one day remaining to sign Bozak or he will walk out of Toronto for nothing. He is a potential first line center for other teams in the league, and he has the scoring touch on the rush thanks to his great speed and puck skills. He would fit in well in the Windy City because the Blackhawks’ skilled style of play mirrors Bozak’s.
The Leafs are considering an eight-year offer from Bozak’s agent as of this Monday. With GM Dave Nonis looking reluctant, this could be the 27-year old’s opportunity to move on to a club with a brighter future.
The Blackhawks and Bozak could be a good pair, but only if Bozak was willing to sign short-term. The Blackhawks would not take six or seven years for him, but if he is willing to commit to a two year contract and he brings success he could be in for the long haul with Chicago. He would have to accept his role as a second line center at best, because captain Jonathan Toews’ first line looks inseparable as of late. If Bozak wants a realistic chance at winning a Stanley Cup in the near future, he will look at Chicago.
However, the reality of this signing happening is slim. While it looks like a good fit on the depth chart, it won’t on the finance sheet, with the Blackhawks trying to get their high payroll under the salary cap ceiling for the 2013-14 campaign. Bozak will generate interest in other, smaller-market teams, who are looking for a solid first line pivot. The Blackahwks are expected to fill their center void in with players from within the organization, to help with the finance issues.
Probability: 10%. Bozak may express interest in the club, but he would have to take a short term contract for less than other teams in the league, and that is something he is not expected to entertain.
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