Tyler Bozak to the Colorado Avalanche. This has been a ‘rumor’ that has been floating around almost as long as he has been in the NHL - to the point that Avs fans have a running joke about the Maple Leafs trading Tyler Bozak + a second round pick for X good player.
Now, with Bozak on the brink of becoming a free agent, he is actually available and word is that the Colorado Avalanche are one of the teams interested in bringing in the 32-year old center.
The University of Denver product has spent his entire 9-year NHL career playing for the Maple Leafs. As a first line center on a really bad roster, Bozak became associated with the darkness that was the Burke-Nonis era in Toronto. Now, nearing his mid-30s, Bozak has spent the last few seasons filling a third line role and is ready to move on from the only professional organization he’s ever known.
.@Avalanche News: I’m told that The #Avs have been in touch with UFA C Tyler Bozak & his agent. Worth noting Bozak has lived in Denver for the past 9 years as it’s his summer home. #Avalanche https://t.co/lfecC5UfZ0— Joshua Marshall (@JMarshyBosco93) June 24, 2018
Over the weekend, it was reported that the Avs are one of 10 teams that are interested in the veteran center. But should they be?
Bozak is a decent playmaking center that can win a few faceoffs and play both powerplay and penalty kill when needed. That said, for those of us that have watched him on a regular basis over the past few years, it’s very obvious that Tyler Bozak has lost a step. He was never an elite speedster, and he’s become a little slower. It’s not to the point that his skating is a hindrance, it just doesn’t allow him to be as effective as he once was.
On a team like the Avalanche that is built on youth and speed, I just don’t know how Bozak would fit into the system.
Bozak actually had decent numbers last season. Thirty of his 43 points came at 5 on 5, and he finished with one of the best CF% on his team. That said, playing with James van Riemsdyk and either Mitch Marner or Connor Brown, Bozak was a passenger on his line. He had one of the lowest shot rates on the team and only Leo Komarov had a worse individual Corsi for among Leafs forwards.
Bozak is an ok bottom-6 forward, but he’s going to get a contract that suggests he’s a lot better than that. With a bunch of teams involved in negotiating, it’s not out of the question to think that he’ll get a raise from the $4.2 million he made last season.
With his foot speed already in decline, you do not want to be paying Tyler Bozak $4+ million for the next three or four years.
Aside from the money - since cap space isn’t an issue for the Avs - signing Bozak simply doesn’t make sense for Colorado from a lineup perspective. Last year on the Leafs, Bozak played a role very similar to what J.T. Compher played for the Avs.
Along with Compher, the Avs have Alex Kerfoot, Tyson Jost and Vladislav Kamenev that can all play center. Why would Jared Bednar want a slower center clogging up the depth chart. They already have the veteran (overpaid) two-way bottom-6 guy in Carl Soderberg, with him on the roster, Bozak is redundant.
Bringing in Tyler Bozak would slow down the team, cost a lot of money, and take away minutes from one of the youngsters. Signing him doesn’t make sense - which makes me dubious as to whether or not the Avs are actually interested in him.
With the free agent interview window now open, we should get a better idea of who the team is talking to in the next few days. If they are talking to Bozak, let’s hope Joe Sakic either has a change of heart or is priced out of the negotiations.
The Avalanche don’t need Tyler Bozak - let someone else overpay for him.