Since signing on with the Toronto Maple Leafs nearly four years ago, Tyler Bozak has become a fan favorite in Toronto.
Undrafted out of college (Bozak played college hockey in the United States for the Denver Pioneers), the 6'0", 195-pound Regina native has worked his way up to being Toronto's current No. 1 center.
Bozak's time in Toronto, however, could soon come to an end.
With this year's market for skilled centers being fairly thin (Stephen Weiss' injury only makes Bozak that much more valuable), Toronto should look to move the 27-year-old before the April 3 trade deadline.
Not only could the Leafs ask for a decent return for Bozak, but his absence wouldn't cripple this team's chances of reaching the postseason either.
The Leafs would still have two top-six centers in Mikhail Grabovski and Nazem Kadri (who has been sensational in his first full season with the team)—with the call-up of Joe Colborne, who has played some great hockey for the Toronto Marlies of the AHL after a slow start, and Jay McClement, Toronto would also have two bottom-six centers to round out the lineup.
Sure, the Leafs would miss Bozak. He's been solid for the Leafs since the beginning of last season and gives the Leafs a great faceoff guy and shootout presence.
But would Bozak be worth more to this team than a potential first-round draft pick and/or prospect? After all, he is a free agent after this season.
Which brings me to my next point.
If the Leafs are really high on Bozak, why not re-sign him once the season wraps up?
His contract expires after the 2013 season, and if the team can fetch a first-rounder for him (surely the Leafs can bring in a first-round pick for Bozak if the Buffalo Sabres were able to acquire one for Paul Gaustad), why not take the risk and hope he comes back in the postseason?
Ultimately, the play of Nazem Kadri this season has made Tyler Bozak expendable.
Dealing him now and extracting whatever value he has on the trade market is, in the end, the best move for the Leafs going forward.