Dave Bolland hasn’t played for over three months, but that hasn’t stopped his name from cropping up in countless trade rumors lately.
Those rumors have become more frequent ever since Nick Kypreos of Sportsnet broke the news that the 27-year-old centre, who will be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the 2013-14 season, is currently seeking a seven- to eight-year contract extension from the Leafs worth at least $40 million.
Now as Bolland gets set to make his return from a severed ankle tendon that has limited him to just 15 games this season, many onlookers are wondering what Leafs general manager Dave Nonis will decide to do here.
The Leafs are currently pushed against the salary cap at the moment and don’t have much flexibility, but that will change this offseason when the cap will increase to roughly $71 million. So the team could meet Bolland’s demands and extend him if it really wants to keep him.
The question is, though, is Bolland really worth it?
In his six-year career with the Chicago Blackhawks prior to joining the Leafs, Bolland never topped more than 47 points in a single season. This season, his first with the Leafs, he’s primarily been used as a third-line centre behind Nazem Kadri and Tyler Bozak.
It can be argued that Bolland’s value extends beyond his on-ice performance and role. He’s been credited with having fine leadership skills and a strong locker room presence.
But considering that Toronto is currently 32-22-7 overall and 11-2-2 in its past 15 games, it can be argued that Bolland’s presence isn’t as critical to the team’s success as it seems.
The Leafs also need to focus on spending their money on the right players. Wingers Mason Raymond and Nikolai Kulemin will be unrestricted free agents at the end of the season. Defensemen Jake Gardiner, Cody Franson and goaltender James Reimer will be restricted free agents and will be due for a raise. Goaltender Jonathan Bernier and Kadri will be restricted free agents next season.
After already giving huge long-term contracts to Dion Phaneuf, Phil Kessel and David Clarkson this season, Toronto needs to be careful giving out similar lengthy contracts to other players and reducing its cap flexibility.
At the end of the day, while Bolland is a productive player both on and off the ice, his salary demands, which seem high for the role that he currently plays with the team, may price him out of Toronto’s long-term plans.
So if Bolland isn’t willing to lower those demands, it may be wise for the team to trade him before the March 5 trade deadline in order to ensure that it won’t lose him for nothing during free agency.
All player stats are from hockey-reference.com.
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