Tyler Bozak now a trade deadline target and I’m all for it

Tyler Bozak (Abelimages/Getty Images)

Tyler Bozak (Abelimages/Getty Images)

Just a few weeks ago, the Rangers looked like they were heading to acquire center, Mike Santorelli from Toronto. Poof! That went away. As of yesterday, they looked like they might acquire forward, Daniell Winnik from the Leafs and that vanished too. Such is life in the NHL near the deadline.

We know that Andrej Sekera was a potential target on defense but he’s gone to L.A. now. So what’s next? Yes, a defenseman is a possibility but I think the Rangers are really looking for a center and have been since November.

We know that Arizona’s Antoine Vermette is a target and learned Columbus’ Mark Letestu was also rumored. Another center is Jay McClement from Carolina but he and Latestu don’t necessarily improve the team offensively.

After the Rangers lost out on Winnik, TSN’s Bob McKenzie called the Rangers “antsy”. As the fire sale in Toronto continues he dropped this info yesterday.

[su_quote cite=”McKenzie via Nichols on Hockey” url=”https://www.nicholsonhockey.com/worthreading/2015/2/25/mckenzie-bruins-rangers-getting-a-little-bit-antsy-on-trade-front-sabres-stewart-leafs-bozak”] “One name that’s been linked to the New York Rangers is Tyler Bozak, a center with the Toronto Maple Leafs, who would not be an easy deal to do because of the financial implications. Bozak has term and dollars left on his deal, so it’s not easy for a cap team like the New York Rangers. But at least that’s one player’s name who’s out there as maybe the Rangers having some interest if they could find a way to facilitate the dollars.”[/su_quote]

This morning, The Fourth Period Magazine noted the teams that have expressed interest in Bozak and they include the Oilers, the Avalanche and yes, the New York Rangers. While I understand the Oilers and Avs having interest, I doubt they will pay too much as both are out of the playoff picture. So if Bozak were to be dealt by March 2nd, it would go to a team in the race.

Bozak is a solid player who is likely being misused as a number 1 center when he is better suited as a 2nd or 3rd line role. At 28 years old and with a manageable cap hit of 4.2M until 2017, that cost certainty may be appealing to a Rangers team with a host of cap unknowns going into this offseason.

Will Mats Zuccarello lower his demands? How much will it take to extend Derek Stepan? Or just how willing is Marty St. Louis to stay in NY at a much more cap friendly hit than his current 5.625M charge?

Another knock on Bozak is how poorly his numbers are without Phil Kessel. First off, what would Derick Brassard‘s numbers look like without Rick Nash? Why are we penalizing him for what could be his other line mates not producing when away from Kessel.

This tweet was also posted on Blueseatblogs.com who feel that Bozak would make no sense here. Although we disagree they put forth a strong counter point using the information above.

Another reason I think Bozak would be a fit is his ability to win face-offs. Listen, I know that the fancy stats community feels that draws are just a glorified puck battle and don’t matter as much as coaches and players will have you believe. Is it just me, or is not heeding the importance stressed by NHL coaches border on hubris. We’ve written how the Rangers inability to win draws against the Kings last summer may have cost them the Cup.

kevin Hayes (GETTY)

kevin Hayes (GETTY)

Tyler Bozak is winning nearly 52% of his draws and his acquisition would move Kevin Hayes to his natural position of wing. Amazing that Hayes produced a game winning goal in his first game at wing since early November.

What we don’t know is the asking price for Bozak yet. JT Miller seems to be the consensus expendable asset. Here’s what else Leafs Nation’s managing editor wrote:

[su_quote cite=”Justin Fisher” url=”https://theleafsnation.com/2015/2/25/report-the-rangers-have-interest-in-tyler-bozak”] If the Rangers were to throw in a pick, perhaps either their own or Tampa Bay’s 2015 second round selection (acquired in the Ryan Callahan trade), we’re getting a lot closer to fair value. And remember that, for the Leafs, beyond any pick or prospect, clearing that kind of cash owed to Bozak over the next few years has significant value in itself.[/su_quote]

So if JT Miller is the central piece (and I believe they still need to find cap room to fit), then that means Jesper Fast replace the lost piece in Miller and likely bumps Tanner Glass out of the lineup.

And those who feel JT Miller is a superstar in the making, he has yet to earn AV’s trust and Anthony Duclair is guaranteed a lineup spot for next season. So how do you make all of this work? The Rangers need to move some pieces around and this could be that start.

Listen, the Rangers lineup would be deeper if our centers were Derek Stepan, Derick Brassard, Tyler Bozak and Dom Moore. Plus, you’ve lengthened your lineup by putting Kevin Hayes on the wing. In essence, you’ve just improved your third line and now have more secondary offense.

No one knows if this is the move that Glen Sather pulls the trigger on, or if he even can. My only point is that, if you just stop and take breath you realize the deal might make more sense than you think.

Anthony Scultore has been covering the New York Rangers and the NHL since 2014. His work also appears at... More about Anthony Scultore

Mentioned in this article:

More About: