On Wednesday, ESPN/TSN reporter Pierre LeBrun tweeted that Chicago Blackhawks centre Dave Bolland was being shopped by the team. Bolland, highly regarded as one of the league’s best checking centres in recent years, would under normal circumstances be a highly desirable acquisition for the Edmonton Oilers. Circumstances, however, are far from normal.
Heard from another team that the Blackhawks are shopping center Dave Bolland…
— Pierre LeBrun (@Real_ESPNLeBrun) June 27, 2013
I am told the ‘Hawks are looking for a Pominvile-like return for Bolland
— Bob Stauffer (@Bob_Stauffer) June 27, 2013
If Bob Stauffer is anywhere close with his report as to what the Blackhawks are asking for – and it’s pretty unlikely he would write that unless he had solid information – than Chicago isn’t looking to shed cap hit or simply move the player out; they’re hoping for a team to see Bolland as a guy who drives results.
A reminder as to what Pominville (and a fourth-round pick) fetched at the deadline for Buffalo:
The 16th overall draft pick in 2013 A second round draft pick in 2014 Prospect Johan Larsson (2nd round pick in 2010; 62GP, 15-22-37 in the AHL this season as a rookie) Prospect Matt Hackett (3rd round pick in 2009; 43GP, 0.907 SV% in his third AHL season)
Larsson and Hackett both had relatively poor seasons – Larsson was a much bigger scorer in Sweden while Hackett managed 0.917 and 0.916 save percentage seasons in his two previous AHL campaigns – but both are still decent if unspectacular prospects.
It isn’t a ridiculous return for a third-line centre who is among the best in the league at his position, but then that’s the second problem.
Dave Bolland had a miserable season in 2013.
Unlike in previous campaigns, Bolland didn’t play brutal minutes. He did see good opponents, but he had a 50/50 split of offensive and defensive zone draws and basically had Patrick Kane and Patrick Sharp welded on either hip all season. Of course, Bolland missed some time to injury, so Kane and Sharp played roughly half their minutes with Bolland and half their minutes with other players. A look at their results with and without Bolland is instructive.
With Patrick Kane and Dave Bolland on the ice, the Blackhawks were outscored by a 4:3 margin and out-Corsied (Corsi measure all shot attempts and shows which end of the ice the puck is in) 5:4. With Kane on the ice and no Bolland, the Blackhawks outscored the opposition 3:2 and out-Corsied them 4:3.The results (shown in the link above) were very similar for Patrick Sharp with and without Bolland.
Putting that into English: a line of Patrick Kane, Dave Bolland and Patrick Sharp were crushed by the opposition despite playing on a very good team. That same unit, minus Dave Bolland, was dominant. Bolland fell to fourth line duty in the playoffs. Bolland’s only 27 but plays a physically intense style with a slight frame (6’, 184 pounds) and any team acquiring him runs the risk that this year was the beginning of the new trend with Bolland rather than an aberration.
The Bottom Line
Dave Bolland has been a very, very good hockey player in recent years, but his struggles in 2013 make him a risk – and any team acquiring him should refuse to pay market value given that risk. The Blackhawks, while evidently interested primarily in future rather than current assets, are asking for a hefty return for Bolland’s services. It simply doesn’t make sense for a team like Edmonton to offer up that kind of package for an uncertain return.
Recently around the Nation Network
Yesterday, the Tampa Bay Lightning announced they were going to buy out Vincent Lecavalier, and fans in 29 other cities immediately started wondering if he might be a fit for their team. In Vancouver, it appears that general manager Mike Gillis has definite interest:
Needless to say Lecavalier will have plenty of suitors, including the Canucks to hear Pierre LeBrun tell it on the Team 1050 on Thursday. "The Canucks front office has already talked to John Tortorella about this," Lebrun passed along on Thursday, "and they see this as a possible fit if they can get out of cap hell, which they’re in now."
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