December 04 2012 09:10AM
I've been repeatedly hammering the point that if Tyler Bozak were to come to Vancouver as the major piece in exchange for Roberto Luongo, the Canucks lose on the deal. There was my own surprise over at The Leafs Nation that Bozak even carries trade value, and I very much agreed with Dimitri's post here over at Canucks Army last month.
Vancouver has already flirted with the idea of acquiring a centre in a possible Roberto Luongo trade. One of them is Tyler Bozak, who Vancouver believes has been miscast in Toronto and, if acquired, could slot into the Canucks third-line centre hole, and do it nicely.
Jason Botchford, who has given Canucks Army writers the slogan "meticulous, number-crunching whizzes" continues to repeat that the Canucks have interest in Tyler Bozak. I can think of two reasons for this, a) the team is legitimately interested in Bozak, or b) it's the lockout, he's bored, and he's trolling us.
For the purposes of this post, let's assume it's a).
When we say "mis-cast", what does that mean with Bozak. How has he been cast? Well, with Mikhail Grabovski having sewn up all the second-line minutes, Bozak was shuffled between the first line with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul and a make-shift third line.
In the above Leafs Nation post, I suggested that Bozak was "mis-cast" not as a first liner last season, but as an NHL player. When Phil Kessel escaped the clutches of Tyler Bozak over the last two seasons, he has a puck-possession rate of 48.9%, according to Hockey Analysis. When the two are together, Kessel's possession rate actually dips, to a mere 47.6%. How come?
Well, the general consensus is that Tyler Bozak just isn't particularly good at hockey. He went undrafted for a reason, didn't see his first NHL game until age 23 for a reason, and is only the third most trusted centreman (behind Grabovski and David Steckel) on a very weak team for a reason. He simply doesn't have the tools to put it all together at the NHL-level.
But don't ask me, ask Leaf fans. I posed the question to the Barilkosphere (named for famed Tragically Hip song subject Bill Barilko) what they thought of Bozak, or whether they thought he could handle Malhotra's minutes. I apologize in advance for the bogus formatting, and think Twitter really needs to work on their embedding options:
@camcharron oh boy i'd love to see him playing 3rd line shutdown minutes... in Vancouver— Phillip Wallner (@wallnerr) November 29, 2012
@camcharron there's a lot of Stajan in his game.— Kid Canada (@thekidcanada) November 29, 2012
@camcharron Absolutely. He's in over his head on the 1st line with Kessel.— Colin (@SkinnyPPPhish) November 29, 2012
@camcharron I wouldn't say he's been miscast as a 1st line centre. I'd say he's a 1st line centre due to a lack of options.— TV's Brent (@TVsBrent) November 29, 2012
@camcharron it makes me excited for the future since the Canucks might take Tyler Bozak from us— Chemmy (@felixpotvin) November 29, 2012
@camcharron also uh, Tyler Bozak gets run over in tough minutes.— Chemmy (@felixpotvin) November 29, 2012
@camcharron Well it's what Brian Burke thinks, since every off-season he says Bozak was in over his head.— Dr. Aglikepull (@draglikepull) November 29, 2012
@camcharron depends on the role he should be in? 3rd line checking C with some PP time in a pinch? sure... but he's used as a top line C.— Stephen Burtch (@SteveBurtch) November 29, 2012
@camcharron They'd waive him down to the AHL in a big hurry.— Colin (@SkinnyPPPhish) November 29, 2012
@camcharron hahahahahahahahaha— Bower Power (@So_Truculent) November 29, 2012
Generally, there just isn't a huge amount of optimism surrounding Leaf fans about this guy. Of course, the question posed is whether or not Bozak has been "mis-cast" not whether he's any good.
Here are a couple of Bozak's Behind the Net stats, his overall possession number per 60 minutes (Corsi), his offensive zone start rate (Ozone%) and his quality of competition (Corsi Rel QoC). I've also stacked him up against two successful Canuck third liners, and their two seasons before joining the Canucks:
|Corsi||Ozone%||Corsi Rel QoC|
Spot the differences here. Higgins and Malhotra both played tough minutes for poor possession clubs but had much better seasons that Bozak moving the puck. They also never had the luxury of playing alongside Phil Kessel, a natural centreman playing wing who does all the heavy zone-entry work. Bozak takes the face-offs, and though is pretty good at them, he still doesn't translate puck touches into anything truly conducive to driving the play forward.
If not Bozak for Luongo, then who?
My own honest theory as a member of both the Canucks and Leafs blogospheres and being generally aware of each teams' strengths and weaknesses has me pretty sure that there isn't a match to be made regarding a Roberto Luongo trade without one team making out as a significant winner. Vancouver are building a championship roster and Toronto have so few players at every position that trading any of them even close to Luongo's level will leave them handicapped at any spot.
The only way for the above image (courtesy @manbearpiglpu) to become a reality is if one team takes on a bunch of added salary or there's some form of three-way deal. I can see other ways of Tyler Bozak landing up in a Canucks sweater (a player such as Keith Ballard is of more use to Toronto than Vancouver) but given the quality of Luongo as a hockey player, he's not worth giving up because the Canucks might see some value in Bozak as a third-line centreman.
If they were looking for Dave Bolland, a proven player in that role at the top of his game, that's a different story.