Dealing With The Three Big Toronto Maple Leafs Unrestricted Free Agents

NHL free Agency
PHILADELPHIA, PA - MARCH 28: James van Riemsdyk #21 and Tyler Bozak #42 of the Toronto Maple Leafs in action against Michael Raffl #12 the Philadelphia Flyers at Wells Fargo Center on March 28, 2014 in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. The Flyers defeated the Maple Leafs 4-2. (Photo by Rich Schultz /Getty Images)

The Toronto Maple Leafs Big Three of Leo Komarov, Tyler Bozak, and James van Riemsdyk are all set to hit unrestricted free agency this summer. No one really knows which direction Toronto is going to go with the three. In a perfect world, the Maple Leafs would most likely re-sign all three – but they live in the cap world and with Toronto’s cap situation clouded with question marks because of the extensions due to some of their young stars, Toronto is going to have to walk away from one, or a few, of their veteran free agents.

Toronto Maple Leafs Unrestricted Free Agents

Leo Komarov

Two years ago, Leo Komarov potted 19 goals and 36 points and was named an NHL All-Star on a dismal Maple Leafs team. But now Komarov is one of Toronto’s top penalty killers, playing on the third or fourth line, and not contributing much offensively. Mike Babcock looks to Komarov for his defensive abilities because his offensive game just isn’t there anymore. But the problem with that is that Komarov’s defensive game isn’t quite where you’d think it is anymore either.

Of all Maple Leafs players who have played at least 500 minutes this season, Komarov is last in Corsi for percentage at 45.66 and last in relative Corsi for percentage at -5.26.

Komarov’s biggest flaw is his age. He’s 30, which isn’t young in today’s NHL. At that age, giving Komarov a new contract doesn’t make much sense especially since the Leafs have several Marlies who are close to being ready for the NHL.

Tyler Bozak

Bozak is still effective in a lot of aspects of the game, but there’s no denying he’s lost a step. Last season Bozak had a career season scoring 55 points in 78 games, a career-high 37 assists, and a career-best 56.7 faceoff percentage. This season, Bozak has 34 points in 68 games (10 goals, 24 assists) and he’s 53.2 percent on faceoffs.

His point totals have taken a drastic dip this season and his faceoff percentage has fallen a little. A three percent fall, while staying above 53 percent, would be very good for most players. But for a player like Bozak, who draws a lot of his value from his faceoff capability, that three percent drop is a very big knock on his value.

The one place Bozak has improved this season is his possession metrics. His Corsi-for percentage has improved from 51.7 to 52.5, and his Fenwick-for percentage has improved to 50.8 from 50.2. His relative numbers have improved by about three percentage points. Bozak has consistently been a negative Corsi player for the majority of his career, so for him to be improving on those statistics at this point in his career is impressive.

Toronto doesn’t have many sure-fire centers in the organization, so if they can convince Bozak to take a pay cut on a three or four-year deal, there’s still plenty of value left in the Denver Pioneer grad. The only big issue with re-signing Bozak is that William Nylander would stay on the wing, but with Auston Matthews and Nazem Kadri in the middle of the ice, that shouldn’t trouble the Maple Leafs too much.

James van Riemsdyk

James van Riemsdyk is the most interesting of the three because he’s the best of them. Van Riemsdyk scored 29 goals and a career-best 62 points last season. This season he has 26 goals and 41 points in 68 games. He’s seen his points total take a bit of a hit but that can be heavily attributed to the lackluster offensive play of his linemates, Mitch Marner and Tyler Bozak, in the first half of the season.

Van Riemsdyk’s value stems from his ability to disrupt the opposing team’s goalie and use his stick in tight spaces to make plays like no other player in the NHL. There isn’t a stat to prove that, but maybe this video of van Riemsdyk’s goals is enough.

A fair price for van Riemsdyk is somewhere between $6 and $7 million per year, so if the Leafs can get van Riemsdyk to accept somewhere in that range, on a medium-term contract, then he should stay a Maple Leaf.

Cap Friendly Arm Chair GM 2020 Roster

Using Cap Friendly’s Arm Chair GM feature, it is possible to build the Maple Leafs 2020 roster. Leo Komarov didn’t make the cut, but both Tyler Bozak and James van Riemsdyk are there.

As you can see, this leaves the Leafs with an unproven defensive core but the growth of Nikita Zaitsev, Travis Dermott, Timothy Liljegren and Andrew Nielsen will hopefully counteract that.

But do remember, this is all hypothetical.

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