Leafs Acquire Bolland for Three Draft Picks

The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired centre Dave Bolland from the Chicago Blackhawks for a second-round draft pick and two fourth-round draft picks (one in 2014).

Bolland isn't the first-line centre the Leafs covet, but the 27-year-old played tough minutes on the Blackhawks, with only 46.1 per cent of his faceoffs coming in the offensive zone and ranking third among forwards in Corsi QoC (quality of competition) last season. He's a defensive centre that should solidify the Leafs' third line in terms of shutdown ability, especially with Jay McClement on the fourth line.

Bolland, who has a $3.375-million cap hit before hitting free agency next summer, isn't great on the faceoff dots, however, as his career-high in that department is 49.4 per cent. His Corsi rating was among the worst on the Blackhawks last season, and he's frequently in the negatives in terms of puck possession, but that's a little deceiving considering the tough, defensive minutes he plays.

Whether this means general manager Dave Nonis has halted his search for a first-line centre remains to be seen. It's worth noting that Mikhail Grabovski played tough minutes last season with only 43.3 per cent of his draws in the offensive end. If Bolland and McClement claim most of those tough minutes, that opens the door for Grabovski to display his offensive abilities that were unused by head coach Randy Carlyle. Should that happen, Grabovski and Nazem Kadri as the Leafs' top-six centres is nothing to scoff at.

Still, that should be considered a Plan B as the Leafs could use a bonafide first-line centre to finally quell that need, one that has persisted since Mats Sundin departed the club.

The move also likely marks the end of Tyler Bozak in Toronto. The unrestricted free agent will now test the market on July 5, and that shouldn't be a problem for the Leafs. Bozak struggled defensively and put up modest offensive numbers in top line minutes with Phil Kessel and James van Riemsdyk (and Joffrey Lupul).

If the Leafs still target a first-line centre, though, one would assume Kadri either moves to the wing or Grabovski is shipped out. Considering Grabovski's strong two-way play, it may be in the Leafs' best interest to play him on the second-line, place Kadri on the wing, and continue to pursue a legitimate first-line centre.

Time will tell.

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George Prax's picture

Bolland is a good player, obviously knows what it takes to win too. But 3 picks is a lot for what could end up being a rental bottom liner. Still not a terrible move for the Leafs.

Lukas Hardonk's picture

This move also solidifies the Leafs at centre down low. With Grabovski, Kadri, Bolland and McClement, they're solid enough at centre for now. Worry about the defence and if an opportunity comes along up front, go after it.