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Cherry calls Bozak a ‘plugger,’ says Leafs overpaid

Jul 9, 2013, 4:07 PM EDT

TylerBozak

Apparently Don Cherry doesn’t think much of the Toronto Maple Leafs’ decision to give Tyler Bozak a five-year, $21 million contract extension.

“I can’t believe they re-signed him for that,” the outspoken Hockey Night in Canada announcer told the Grande Prairie Daily Herald.

I mean, there’s a classic case of overpaying a guy. Ridiculous. He’s a plugger, he’s playing with (Phil) Kessel and he can’t get 20 goals. You could get 20 goals playing with Kessel (laugh).”

Bozak, a 27-year-old center, had 28 points in 46 games last season.

So far as Cherry’s comments are concerned, there will be no shortage of observers who agree with them. In fact, many think the Leafs should’ve kept center Mikhail Grabovski, who the team bought out, and let Bozak walk away.

On the other hand, Bozak’s $4.2 million cap hit is actually lower than what many thought he could get in free agency. So in that way, it was a win for general manager Dave Nonis.

  1. narfmoo12 - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:19 PM

    Who would you rather have? Bozak for five years at $4.25M or LeCavalier for five years at $4.5M … Give Homer some credit. Between Bozak, Clarkson, Horton, and Fillipula, it seems like LeCavalier is a steal.

    • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:34 PM

      He would be, but for he didn’t want to play there. Not many stars seem to, no matter how much money Toronto throws at them. Odd, no?

      • sunderlanding - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:59 PM

        Actually you’re totally wrong. Lot’s of players, including starts, would love to play in Toronto. Stamkos wanted them to sign an offer sheet, Letang just said if he had to be traded he would go to Toronto, and of course Gretzky his whole career just wanted to play in Toronto.

      • lostpuppysyndrome - Jul 9, 2013 at 5:08 PM

        To be fair, I did say “not many stars,” not “no stars.” However, I can’t argue with the Stamkos, Letang, and Gretzky bit. Burkie undoubtedly played a role in pushing would-be Leafs players away though. Leafs mgmt had been suspect or outright blockheaded for some time now. We’ll just have to see if Nonis can keep the ball rolling from last year.

      • elrock7 - Jul 9, 2013 at 7:23 PM

        33 yr old, injury prone Vinny 5 yrs at 4.5 mil per? To me and many others that is an act of desperation.

        We will see by year 2 the Flyers, again, wishing that hadn’t given out yet another stupid contract. I like Vinny, but not for that term or cap hit. Bozaks deal is much better for a still improving center who is 6 years younger.

    • hockeyflow33 - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:39 PM

      You’re making a rather large assumption

      • tru2joelu4eva - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:52 PM

        i agree with hockeyclow33. i understand why it might seem like toronto isn’t a key destination for big-name players, but that probably because brian burke and his absolute unwillingness to sign the kinds of contracts “star” players demand through free agency. i think it’s reasonable to expect that to change in the upcoming summers …

      • kaptaanamerica - Jul 10, 2013 at 7:58 AM

        Players don’t want to come to Toronto and its proven year after year.they have to over pay our sign to ridiculous term.even nonis said off he didn’t go max years Clarkson wouldn’t have signed.I’m sure the oilers were paying more for fewer years.Clarkson is a career third liner just like bozak on a good team.leafs fans over value their signings and players.Burke> Nonis by a huge margin.Burke is the one who set this team up and stupid ownership fired him before seeing out the season.his plan was totally coming together, and nonis had inherited his work of the last few years.Burke is good at studying talent and scouting, except he’s too loyal

    • tmlhockeyfan - Jul 9, 2013 at 5:41 PM

      Of course Lecavalier would be better than Bozak, but Lecavalier was not available when Bozak was signed. Vinny being a life-long Habs fan probably had little interest in Toronto. The amount he signed for in Philly said that he wanted to play there. Him and Giroux are friends. Out of what was left, there wasn’t anything much better than Bozak. Not sure what imaginary center you people expect Toronto to pick up that is SO much better than Bozak.

      • elrock7 - Jul 9, 2013 at 7:31 PM

        Life long Habs fan who had zero interest in ever playing there.. That being said, there is NO other team who would have given him that contract. Holmgren is a Sather clone. Cant GM just throws stupid contracts at whoever is out there at the time!

  2. ethanmacleod1685 - Jul 9, 2013 at 4:48 PM

    Bozak is a second liner at best, third liner on a good team, overpaid! Lol

    • dueman - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:48 PM

      Actually he’s a first line center, and has been for a while now. He plays on a team called the Toronto Maple Leafs, ever heard of them? Moron, third liner my a$$. The Bozak, Kessel, and van Riemsdyk line is one of the best scoring lines in hockey. Everybody says the Leafs over paid for him, but they have no alternative do they? Oh ya, that’s right, they should have kept Grabo, and paid even more money for less points, and broke up a line with good chemistry at the same time. Arm chair GM’s will never agree with anything the Leafs do, and when they do good, it’s always only luck! lol Personally, I think they did the right thing, but what do I know? I’m just another arm chair GM!

      • channelguy - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:09 PM

        Well, he plays on the first line, but the point being made is that TALENT-WISE, judging by his point production, he’s not a first line center. I think that’s fair. On the other hand, he is a top-six talent, so a second line center, not a third.

        The Leafs DO have a first line center. His name is Nazem Kadri, and for whatever reason, they want to play him on the second line. I’ve heard that his style doesn’t complement Kessel’s as well, that the Leafs want to reduce the pressure on Kadri, since he just became a good player last year, and that they want Kadri to improve his faceoffs as reasons.

        On the other hand, since that second line is Lupul, Kadri and Clarkson, there’s really not much difference from the first.

      • dueman - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:53 PM

        Bozak, and Kessel have good chemistry already, and Kadri, and Lupol showed they had chemistry right off the bat. Both lines will probably see similar ice times this coming year, and with the addition of Clarkson the Leafs are going to have a formidable first and second line combination. Call it two first lines, or call it two second lines, either way they are going to score a lot of goals between them.

      • tdrusher225 - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:32 AM

        Bozak is a solid player, but with the skills and overall package he possesses, saying he is a 2nd line center/3rd line center on a Championship team is a very fair assessment. The top line for Leafs did not produce at that level because of the play of Bozak. He was solid and developed decent chemistry with Kessel, but he was not the engine that made that line go. He was a product of his linemates and people shouldn’t be fooled into thinking he has top line talent. His skills are very similar to what Dave Bolland could provide them. The Leafs really didn’t have many options and his chemistry with the Leafs forwards made it more convenient. Wouldn’t call it a bad signing but certainly not untrue to suggest the Leafs overpaid.

    • tmlhockeyfan - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:51 PM

      Well, $4.2M is 2nd liner money… so there’s that.

  3. tmlhockeyfan - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:00 PM

    It’s getting ridiculous how many people think Toronto screwed the team up this off season. I know Bozak isn’t the best 1st line center in the NHL, but he has chemistry with his line. He’s good for 50-60 points. Which for 4.2 is already in the ballpark.

    On top of that add all the intangibles Bozak does.
    FACEOFFS. He’s one of the best in the NHL. Only Claude Giroux had more faceoff wins last season. Bozak tied Jonathan Toews for 2nd. (Talk about terrible company for Bozak to be in, right?)

    HITS. Bozak hits more than most top 6 forwards. Backes, J.Staal, Getzlaf, Lecavalier, Benn, and Kopitar were the only 1st or 2nd line centers with more hits than Bozak. (What an awful list of centers again, and Bozak is in it of course)

    TAKEAWAYS. He was 7th among NHL centers. Datsyuk, Toews, E.Staal, M.Duchene, Benn, Pavelski were the top 6. (Even though Bozak found a way onto the same list as those centers, he’s just a “plugger”, Right Don?)

    Don’t even get me started on how much better Bolland is than Grabovksi, but that is the other “worst move ever” by Toronto.

    • dueman - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:57 PM

      Don’t forget the fact that he’s one of their best penalty killers, and the only one that is a threat to score short handed. Also the fact that having him stay pretty much guarantees Kessel’s resigning. But regardless of all that, over paying him by $0.2 million/year still makes them stupid I guess. lol People are burnt!

    • Mark - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:07 PM

      “I know Bozak isn’t the best 1st line center in the NHL, but he has chemistry with his line. He’s good for 50-60 points. Which for 4.2 is already in the ballpark.”

      That’s pretty impressive given his career high is 47. You must be thinking of Grabovski, who routinely puts up 48-51 and has a 58 point season under his belt.

      “FACEOFFS. He’s one of the best in the NHL. Only Claude Giroux had more faceoff wins last season. Bozak tied Jonathan Toews for 2nd. (Talk about terrible company for Bozak to be in, right?)”

      That’s because Bozak was #2 in opportunities. His 52% faceoff wins isn’t that impressive.

      And that’s pretty laughable that Bolland is better than Grabovski. Heading into this year Bolland scored 37 points a year…Grabovski did 51 and 58 respectively. So Bolland would have to be absolutely incredible at the rest of his game to even be in the same ballpark as Grabovski.

      • elrock7 - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:34 PM

        Bozak would have been signed immediately had leafs not re-upped. I don’t see anyone knocking down the door of Grabos agent.

      • Mark - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:30 PM

        So what if Bozak would have been signed by another team? He’s not a good player, and he makes the Leafs a worse team going forward than they would have been with Grabovski in his place.

        Yes, nobody is in a rush to sign Grabovski because he is coming off a bad season. And the GM who does end up signing Grabovski is going to end up with a steal on a bargain contract.

      • tmlhockeyfan - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:25 PM

        THIS season, not your dream season from 3 years ago, Bozak had 28points in 46 games. Grabovski had 16 points in 48 games. If if was a normal 82 game season Bozak was on face for 50, Grabovski wasn’t even on pace to crack 30.

        “His 52% faceoff wins isn’t that impressive. ”
        Oh right, you’re impress by Grabovski, who loses more faceoffs than he wins. Bozak is 53.7% career, which is a very good by NHL standards. Patrice Bergeron, who is one of, if not the best faceoff guy in the NHL, is 55.8%, not much higher. Crosby another highly touted faceoff guy is 51.8%, less than Bozak… Your legend in the making Grabovksi wins 48.2% of his faceoffs.

        “And that’s pretty laughable that Bolland is better than Grabovski. ”
        You really need to watch more hockey. You have no idea what you’re even talking about. There’s more to hockey than points. Bolland blows Grabovski out of the water.

        There’s a good reason NOBODY has signed Grabovski yet. Bozak had offers on day 1.

      • Mark - Jul 9, 2013 at 11:33 PM

        “HIS season, not your dream season from 3 years ago, Bozak had 28points in 46 games. Grabovski had 16 points in 48 games. If if was a normal 82 game season Bozak was on face for 50, Grabovski wasn’t even on pace to crack 30.”

        First of all, let’s recognize that a player’s career is more valuable and insightful as to future performance than a 48 game sample.

        Beyond that, you’re ignoring Grabovski being used in the third line, with inferior linemates, in a checking role, playing with lesser minutes and primarily getting starts in the defensive zone. That’s why Grabovski’s points are down. Pretty simple stuff. It’s not complicated to understand why a 50 point guy turns into a 30 point guy thanks to his moronic coach misusing him.

        “Oh right, you’re impress by Grabovski, who loses more faceoffs than he wins. Bozak is 53.7% career, which is a very good by NHL standards. Patrice Bergeron, who is one of, if not the best faceoff guy in the NHL, is 55.8%, not much higher. Crosby another highly touted faceoff guy is 51.8%, less than Bozak… Your legend in the making Grabovksi wins 48.2% of his faceoffs.”

        There’s more to hockey than faceoffs. Grabovski is a plus possession player, which means that he gets the puck into the offensive zone. Bozak is not a plus possession player. He is a leech on Kessel, and Kessel’s scoring goes up nearly 116% when he’s not on a line with Bozak.

        “You really need to watch more hockey. You have no idea what you’re even talking about. There’s more to hockey than points. Bolland blows Grabovski out of the water.”

        You better hope that’s the case, because all the numbers say otherwise.

        “There’s a good reason NOBODY has signed Grabovski yet. Bozak had offers on day 1.”

        Yes, the (bad) reason is that Grabovski is coming off a bad season. Just because Bozak was overvalued and Grabovski was undervalued doesn’t mean that Bozak is a better player.

      • tmlhockeyfan - Jul 10, 2013 at 11:04 PM

        Mark you are a lost cause.

        “There’s more to hockey than faceoffs”
        Yeah, I know. That’s why my original post covered points (Bozak wins) faceoffs (Bozak wins) hits (Bozak wins) takeaways (Bozak wins)

        … what is Grabo better at Bozak in? Shootouts? (Nope Bozak won that too)

        “Just because Bozak was overvalued and Grabovski was undervalued doesn’t mean that Bozak is a better player”

        Grabovski’s not undervalued. No one has bothered with him because he’s just not that good. He’s a 50-55 points range guy with a bad attitude. He’ll probably end up job hunting in the KHL. Bozak is the better player because he’s better in every aspect of the game.

        But Grabovski’s hustle and inability to score do it for you, feel free to go cheer for whatever team he signs with.

    • tdrusher225 - Jul 10, 2013 at 12:53 AM

      First I have to say, hits are an irrelevant stat that tell very little about a player’s ability and value and faceoff wins don’t matter, it’s faceoff percentage. That being said, I agree that Bozak is a solid player who does a lot of little things well. However, he does not have the skill set to be a top line player unless he’s riding shotgun with Kessel and whomever. He is maybe only slightly better than Dave Bolland who is, essentially, a 3rd line “plugger”. I don’t mind the signing, but it was mainly done out of a lack of options and convenience, rather than a need to keep Bozak.

  4. LampyB - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:17 PM

    Bozak isnt bad to retain, he’s just never broken out and always seems to have a lot more potential that never appears. The Leafs certainly upgraded this summer, bozak signing is good overall and Bernier is 10x better than most in Toronto are giving him credit for. I think Bernier will be better than Schneider, he’s a no. 1 in the making and will be a lot better than Reimer. Good move by Leafs on this one.

  5. kaptaanamerica - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:51 PM

    Cherry is right on this point.this guy is not in the same class as his linemates. Nonis sucks overpaying for every signing.grabovski is way better, this is Carlyle’s doing. Leafs will be hard pressed to overtake the habs, Sens, wings, Bruins in their division after the off season moves. The leafs will be in their usual position at the end of next season… on the outside looking in… btw, Bernier is unproven and may be toskala 2.0…

    • dueman - Jul 9, 2013 at 6:59 PM

      Get off the pipe guy!

  6. ray2013 - Jul 9, 2013 at 7:00 PM

    How about we all agree from now on that in a salary cap world, especially one with a salary floor, that some players will be relatively overpaid because of the position they play and call it a day? A #1C making $4.2 million dollars? Not unreasonable. Bozak as a #1C? That’s the question.

  7. sirhilfiger3 - Jul 9, 2013 at 7:59 PM

    DON CHERRY IS RIGHT AS USUAL—BLOZAK—IS CRAP—YEE HA HE WINS A FACEOFF HERE AND THERE—-I THOUGHT I WAS BEING CRITICAL BUT I DECIDED I WOULD WATCH HIS PLAY FOR THE LAST YEAR AND HALF—AND I WAS RIGHT—PURE JUNK—-CAN’T MAKE A PLAY, GETS EASY GOALS—IE OPEN NETS OR IS SPOON FED—BUMPED OFF PUCK EASY—-GIVE AWAYS GALORE COMPLETELY BY HIM—TORONTO IS RANKED BADLY WHEN IT COMES TO GIVEAWAYS—HE WAS A BIG PART OF THAT

    HECK—WHY NOT GIVE KADRI- THE NUMBER ONE C——HE WAS TOP 25 IN NHL AT ONE POINT WITH HALF THE ICE TIME AS CROSBY—OR GRABOWSKI—IF NO ONE WOULD COME HERE—BRING COLBOURNE UP FOR THIRD OR FOURTH LINE—YOU HAD BALLARD TOO AND MCCLEMONT FOR THIRD AND FOURTH

    WHO KNOWS WHAT CENTRE MIGHT BE AVAILABLE NEXT YEAR—SIGN HIM FOR A YEAR OR TWO IF YOU MUST BUT NOT FOR THIS RIDICULOUS LENGTH—IS HE REALLY GOING TO BE ABLE TO GET THE JOB DONE IN THE FUTURE AS THE NUMBER 1 CENTRE AGAINST TOP PLAYOFF TEAMS—NOT—-SUCH CRAP—-

    ALL THE GOOD MOVES TORONTO MADE WITH BERNIER AND CLARKSON IS A WASH WITH LIEUTENANT DAN AT OUR NUMBER 1 CENTRE—-GEEEEEEEZZZZZZ–COME ON

    KESSEL YOU ARE AWESOME BUT BE FRIENDS WITH LIEUTENANT DAN AFTER THE GAME—GEEZ AGAIN

    • dueman - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:06 PM

      Hey A$$HOLE, lay off the caps you f’n moron! Using all caps does nothing to make your post any more intelligent. In fact it does the opposite, and makes you look like a f’n moron. So enough already. Also please do not use the term “our team” when talking about the Leafs, as you are an embarrassment to the entire fan base. Thank you and goodnight :)

  8. channelguy - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:15 PM

    It’s funny how when Grabovski was a Leaf this year, most Toronto fans seem to think he was not only wildly overpaid, but was erratic and inconsistent on the ice. He STARTED the year in an offensive role, and got moved out of it because he went through an interminable drought where he didnt score. But after the Leafs CUT him, all of a sudden these same folks say Grabovski is the second coming of Pavel Datsyuk.

  9. orangeandblack31 - Jul 9, 2013 at 8:25 PM

    Vinny is a more acomplished player than Tyler friggin Bozak.Are we serious here?

    • dueman - Jul 9, 2013 at 10:08 PM

      Nobody said he wasn’t.

  10. jacketsfan7 - Jul 9, 2013 at 9:32 PM

    He’s a good hockey player , but no where in hell is he worth that money

  11. pone27 - Jul 10, 2013 at 8:09 AM

    This is a pretty funny thread…

    Leafs fans, Bozak is at best a #2 center. Faceoffs are great, takeaways are great, hits are great, but your top 6 all have to produce points!! This is why Bolland was easy to let go on the Hawks, and most Hawks fans, while we will miss him, aren’t too upset he left.

    Bozak and Bolland battling for a #2 center spot is nothing to be happy about. Bozak is a 3.5mil guy at best. He’s atthe age where he should be point producing.

    Not going to compare cap differences with Lecavalier. I love Lecavalier, think he should have easily been one of the best centers in his era, but injuries got him, his contract got him, and now hes 33. Lecavalier will be a “bargain” for a year or two, then his contract will look bloated.

    • dueman - Jul 10, 2013 at 2:44 PM

      What battle are you even talking about? Bozak is the Leafs first line center (whether people agree he is capable doesn’t matter here), Kadri is #2, and Bolland is the third line center. You should stick to Chicago articles, and maybe you won’t look so stupid.

  12. Anoesis - Jul 10, 2013 at 7:58 PM

    I don’t know if Cherry’s right or not, but it’s pretty funny coming from a guy who obviously overpays when getting himself reupholstered.

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