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"The Babcock Era Begins... Stanley Cup or Bust for LA Kings..."
34 Years Old • Male
Happy 4th of July to everyone in the United States...and a belated Canada Day Week to folks in our near North!

Just a couple of thoughts before I head up to Lake Geneva for the day from the Chicago area...

Good news hearing the Maple Leafs have decided to buyout Mikhail Grabovski to free themselves of the decent size cap hit the Belarusian cost over the next four more years. Registering just 2 assists and posting a minus 10 in the seven-game playoff series against Boston just was not good enough.

The extra money left over should be enough to give first line center Tyler Bozak enough to resign long term which is what this team needs going forward it they are serious about winning the Cup anytime soon. Bozak is the Leafs' best two-way forward, a very LA King type of player in my opinion. I am also sure that he is eager to get going after missing the last two playoff games against the Bruins in which he could have meant the difference in the last minute or two of game seven for Toronto.

I have a good gut-feeling as if Bozak will be signed to a six or seven year deal with Toronto by the end of today. In a contract negotiation that has been largely public knowledge over the past week or so, no news is most likely good news at this point...just a lot of speculation as to which teams have expressed interest.

With Bozak being signed hopefully, the Leafs will still have plenty of cap space to add someone like David Clarkson or possibly resign Clarke MacArthur, or perhaps one of the many decent veteran free agent defensemen who will be available tomorrow.

The acquisition of Dave Bolland for three lower draft picks also helps solidify the bottom six, where I see Bolland centering the third line and McClement the fourth line. Both men should also make the penalty kill even stronger than it was last year.

I would like to see Toronto be able to lockup Bolland past this one season he has left on his contract, but that all depends on how many games he misses due to his numerous lingering injuries. If he can skate in 65 or more games, I think it would be reasonable to extend him for two or three more years which I see as the current window for this team to get to the Finals and win.

I think the offseason is getting off to a good start so far. Let's hope things fall into place over the next few days...

Updated 10:35 PM

Thanks for reading and for the comments....Love to hear what others have to say about the Maple Leafs (and Kings, I wish for more Kings readers!).

From where I sit, in Chicago, watching the Maple Leafs games before falling asleep in the middle of Kings game much of the time...LOL...I just think that the Maple Leafs are a better team with Tyler Bozak on it than without him. That was why I was upset with him not being able to get into the lineup for game six and seven. I think he would have made a difference, especially at the end of game seven.

I am not expecting Tyler Bozak to be an All-Star center, although he could be. Nor am I expecting him to score 30 plus goals a season consistently. The bottom line is that he is the Leafs' best two-way forward on the team.

And he doesn't even have to be a top line center (especially if the Leafs can sign him for less than $5 million a season).

Many people view Bozak as a third line center, or very solid fourth line center. With Nazem Kadri as the most talented center on the team, Bozak will fit in well as the second or third best center with Dave Bolland and Jay McClement next to him on the depth charts. The most important argument surrounding the team is being strong up the middle and having Kadri, Bozak, Bolland and McClement, I would say that is a fairly strong middle group who are just as good defensively than they are offensively. The key is to have players, especially centers be able to make the extra defensive play that lead to counter attacks. And yes, winning defensive faceoffs is also a key component to success.

Now, to mention something else other than just looking at top line, bottom line centers...a little thing called chemistry. Perhaps Phil Kessel can produce well without Bozak, he is supposed to right? Putting Bozak and Kessel together again makes this top group stronger. And who is to say, right now, that the top six will be better with someone besides Bozak centering them? Wouldn't you rather have a younger guy who has already played 238 games along the likes of Kessel and other Toronto top line scorers?

The Philadelphia Flyers just resigned Claude Giroux, their top line center for $8.25 million for the next eight seasons. Giroux has never scored more than 30 goals a season (his highest total was 28 in the last full season of 2011-12), but also plays every other aspect of the game well too, lining up high hit totals and also strong faceoff numbers, however not as good as Bozak. Giroux is a huge power play asset, but that also goes along with Philadelphia's offensive-only minded style of play. Now, I am not trying to compare Bozak with Giroux talent-wise, but if Giroux is worth that much (with the Flyers being a lousy example of handling money and their roster...LOL) then surely Bozak is worth at least $4 million a season for the next six to seven seasons knowing that you could get a little more out of the 27-year old than what he has already chipped in with. That is the difference. The sky is still the limit for Bozak, and seeing that he WANTS to stay with the Leafs makes him more valuable to the team going forward.

One last note...

I am not really into the business side of things, I have said that before, but if Toronto does commit to Bozak (which they should) then the Leafs will have to think about what next step is most important. Is adding David Clarkson more important than adding a solid veteran defenseman to play with captain Dion Phaneuf?

Also, the Leafs cannot forget about signing another talented young defenseman in Mark Fraser, who is another important part of this team.

I don't care for Carl Gunnarsson, so I am not worried about the money that could be saved for him. Future cap space should be set aside for Kessel and Kadri, who are the next key pieces to lock up.

Like Chicago and Los Angeles, the Leafs need to be able to identify their core and try to sign them to the most reasonable deals as possible. There is no question in my mind that Tyler Bozak, Nazem Kadri, Phil Kessel and even Mark Fraser are a part of that mix.

Then again, let's not rule out the possibility of Dave Nonis getting a little creative and making a deal that really helps put the puzzle together even better...
July 4, 2013 6:34 PM ET | Delete
While I am still not sure about the Bolland acquisition we definitly have one heck of a shutdown line putting McClement on the wing with Bolland and Kulemin so rather hoping we run that out there to shut down other teams top lines.Grabo was a casualty but the reality is he lost his job on line 2 to Kadri, and is not strong enough physically or defensively for a checking role. Add in his one dimensional offence and penchant through his career to go 1 on 5 instead of passing and playing with his teammates and he was definitly going to be gone. He was also not very tradeable with a long contract at five and a half mil a season either. I am hoping we land Clarkson and one of Scuderi or Ference on the back end for UFA then lock up our guys that are RFA. Also instead of wasting money spent on a 3rd line center coming in to play on the top line, I would prefer a trade. We have the room, perhaps Nonis can pull off a deal ala Stastny or the like to come in for a top line center. I really do NOT want to see us wasting a lot of money and long contract length on Bozak who is really a third line center.As for bringing Mac back? Why? He is replaceable and really we do not need more perimeter players who run hot and cold. I hope we just let him walk.
July 4, 2013 9:10 PM ET | Delete
Disagree with you about Bozak. Just because he wins faceoffs, doesnt mean he is our defensive forward. Kulimen and mcclement are miles ahead of him with respect to that. If we are signing him to that long of a contract, it better be for 3.5 mil max. Hes wins faceoffs and doesnt get in the way of his linemates which is about it. Hes ridden the coattails of kessel and ive read an article that shows kessel has done just as well with bozak as without him.
July 4, 2013 11:53 PM ET | Delete
I still do not see Bozak being back. Leafs have options here, with a lot of cap room for possible trade for a better upgrade on first line center. Right now Kadri is not strong enough on faceoffs to take over the top line role, Bolland is a good 2nd/3rd liner, McClement can play third line wing and replace Komarov or 4th line center. If he is playing the wing Colborne could make the jump up onto that line as a cheaper option.I like Fraser but he is a bottom pairing dman and while I hope they get him signed they certainly should not overpay. The defence I think is where we need to add a guy like Ference.On the Kings front I think they have to just continue to stock the cupboard with prospects to develop, and continue to look at adding some more offence to their attack up front. I think their biggest thing is going to be to get Scuderi back in the fold on the defence.
July 5, 2013 12:18 AM ET | Delete
Bozak should be shown the door.
July 5, 2013 6:14 AM ET | Delete
Comparing Tyler Bozak to Claude Giroux... are you serious? Is this an April Fools article that was posted early? I think the comparison you were looking for was Pascal Dupuis. 3.6 million per for him and he has better numbers than Bozak
July 5, 2013 11:41 AM ET | Delete
If you read my statement..."NOT COMPARING GIROUX AND BOZAK TALENT-WISE"...I was using the comparison between a first line center and a 2nd or 3rd line center...and also taking a shot at your Philadelphia Flyers organization for throwing ridiculous amounts of money at everyone who can skate...but also bringing up some stats and facts about a player who is getting over 8 million a year for 8 years who has not scored 30 goals yet.
July 5, 2013 11:42 AM ET | Delete
Yea, and Dupuis plays alongside guys like Crosby and Malkin....anyone with some talent and skating ability would have great numbers with them as well! God, these Flyers fans are just as delusional as their front office...LOL
July 5, 2013 11:03 PM ET | Delete
Much as I would have liked to have seen the Leafs upgrade and not bring back Bozak as a top line center, at least term and money were not at all bad in this case. With the additions the Leafs actually could prove really good.Lupul - Bozak - KesselJVR - Kadri - ClarksonMcClement - Bolland - KuleminOrr - Colborne - McLarenUp front not at all bad. A spare winger in there will allow them to even shuffle down Clemmer to center the 4th line.Bernier locked up and now the only real question there is what the Leafs can do to improve the defence.Sucks we could not lure in Scuderi or Ference but there are still avenues open for the Leafs via trade.
July 5, 2013 11:23 PM ET | Delete
Oh and royal do not sweat it. Every fanbase will have some of those types in it. And not everyone will see things the same way ever either. I do not always agree with what is written but enjoy reading your view and posts so just keep doing it how you are!
July 9, 2013 6:19 AM ET | Delete
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