Jun 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Blackhawks center Dave Bolland (36) yells at Boston Bruins left wing Brad Marchand (63) during the second period in game two of the 2013 Stanley Cup Final at the United Center. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Chutes And Ladders: Toronto Maple Leafs

For the last couple of days, and continuing for the next few days, I have been and will be looking at each team in the NHL and identifying a couple of players in particular that fit into one of two categories based on the once popular kids game, Chutes and Ladders.  The players in the “chutes” category will be players who exceeded expectations last season, and will have a difficult time avoiding a slide in the coming season.  The “ladder” category will consist of players who are ready to climb a level in their play and step up a notch.  Feel free to brows back to see previous teams, and look for more teams in the coming days.




May 10, 2013; Boston, MA USA; Toronto Maple Leafs center Tyler Bozak (42) scores a shorthanded goal past Boston Bruins goalie Tuukka 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


Chutes:  Tyler Bozak – After playing as the number 1 centre almost because there was no other option, somehow Bozak got into his mind that he was a true first line pivot and wanted to get paid that way.  Now that he has  his 5 year deal in his pocket, it is time to earn that deal.  I’m still not convinced he can live up to it, and if he wasn’t such good friends with pending UFA in 2014 Phil Kessel, they might have let him walk.  He is a good player, but I think his contract request were a bit much for what he offers, even though he eventually settled for a more reasonable number.


Ladders:  Dave Bolland

While the acquisitions of David Clarkson and Jonathan Bernier might have overshadowed Bolland joining the Leafs, Bolland could have the most impact of all the new Leafs.  Likely ticketed for a second line centre role, Bolland will get more of a chance to show his offensive skills, which were not as evident playing in a stacked Chicago system.  He will become one of the big reasons the Leafs are a pain to play against this coming season.

Tags: Dave Bolland Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Bozak

  • Andrew

    Bolland will be a great 3rd line centre, but there’s no way he’s playing second line centre this season – at least not to start the season. After the chemistry that Kadri and Lupul developed last year, I think it is obvious that Lupul-Kadri-Clarkson will be the 2nd line to start the season behind Kessel-Bozak-JVR, which puts Bolland on a line with Kulemin and likely Jay McClement to start the season, which will be a great shutdown line with the potential to put up a little bit of offence.

    • Jared Crozier

      perhaps. But is Kadri’s name on a contract yet? Something is bound to happen and it could be Kadri on his way out instead of Franson. Also, I think Bolland’s offensive potential is underrated. And Lupul will be back with Kessel this year.

      • Andrew

        I agree that Bolland’s potential is underrated, but if Kadri continues to play anywhere close to last year’s performance, you have to assume he’s going to maintain the second line C position. I think he’ll regress a bit based on the advanced stats, which indicate that fortune was on his side, but I’d still expect a strong season and maybe a little improvement in terms of strength and conditioning again this summer with the Roberts’ training system. His chemistry with Lupul is too good – and if the chemistry continues, why would you move Lupul back to playing with Kessel, so other teams can focus on shutting down just one line? Not to mention, Carlyle wants some grit on each line, and keeping JVR on line 1 and Clarkson on line 2 gives you that. The asking price will be too high for Kadri to go anywhere, the Leafs can’t afford to give away a centre, hence the reason they had to sign Bozak for 4.2 a year in the first place (that and because they’re hoping to resign his live-in boyfriend). Leafs will want a King’s ransom for Kadri (i.e., it’s not happening). Look for Franson or Phaneuf to move. I think Phaneuf may move because they’ll have trouble signing him at the end of next season anyway with a big pay raise expected by Kessel and other young Leafs will be expecting a raise a couple years down the road as well. It makes sense to move Phaneuf for a C, a first round draft pick, some prospects or a combination – anything to get a player with the potential to be a legit first line centre.

        • Andrew

          What a rant lol

    • appaulled

      Totally agree. Bolland is a versitile player which makes him a valuable third liner. Perhaps it will be more like line 2A.

      • Andrew

        Yeah, they could basically have 3 second line centremen this year if Bolland stays healthy and performs up to expectations.

  • Stan Smith

    I’m surprised that you have put Bozak in the chutes category. From everything I have read, especially from the “advanced stats” crowd, he has sucked big time since he became a leaf. I personally agree that the leafs could have a better 1st line centre. I don’t think Grabovski was it. I do think that Kadri could become it. I also don’t think the Bozak is as bad a player as the writers try and paint him to be. He must be doing something right to lead the team in ice time for forwards the past two seasons and to remain their number one centre while playing for 2 different coaches and GM’s.

    I do agree that Bolland (along with Clarkson) will make the leafs harder to play against this coming season.