It’s not a surprise that the Leafs are trying to upgrade their lineup in anticipation of (finally) pushing for a playoff spot this season. It’s been constantly noted that the Leafs would like to add some size in the top six, while still searching for that elusive number one center.
They often say that when you make a trade ‘you have to give to get’. That’s why many rumours and trade proposals this season have included names like Luke Schenn, Clarke MacArthur and Mikhail Grabvoski, amongst others. Brian Burke often states that no player on the roster is ever untouchable (as they should be) and that’s why, naturally, we see the names of better players appear in these trade rumours.
You could spend countless hours dissecting all the rumours, but today we’re looking at Tyler Bozak and Mikhail Grabovski, two centers who both have some value in trade discussions.
You’ll often hear Grabovski’s name appear in trade rumours involving elite-level talent: Bobby Ryan, Eric Staal, Ryan Getzlaf, to name a few. The consensus is that the other team will want a decent center in return in order to fill the void. This would be the logical starting point of any deal.
Grabovski is a very tradable asset. He’s only 28 years old, he’s a pending UFA, and he currently clocks in at a modest $2.9 million cap hit. He’s a consistent offensive threat, he’s durable, and he plays with an edge. All this makes him very attractive in trade discussions.
That’s why Brian Burke should be pushing hard to keep Mikhail Grabovski. He brings so much to the table, it becomes immediately difficult to replace his output. Joe Colborne and Nazem Kadri are both center prospects in the system, but neither look primed to fill Grabovski’s shoes and equal his scoring output quite yet. Tim Connolly is signed through next season, but hasn’t made as much of an impact as desired.
Mikhail Grabovski is a tradable asset, but taking him from the lineup would set the team back no matter who the club acquires in return.
This is why Burke should lobby hard to trade Bozak instead, including supplemental assets to cover the talent-gap. Bozak is a young player who many teams would love to add to their roster. He’s defensively tenacious, can hold his own offensively, and is signed through next year at an affordable $1.5 mil cap hit. He doesn’t hold as much value as Grabovski, but he would perk the interest of quite a few teams.
To cover the talent-gap the Leafs would likely be required to send an additional pick (anywhere from a third to a fifth round pick) and a prospect, in addition to the rest of the package. In the end, a deal for an elite level player could end up costing the Leafs a top draft choice (first round), Tyler Bozak, top prospect, additional prospect, and a mid round pick.
It would be a steep price to pay, but I’d gladly pay it before dealing one of the best second line centers in the league away.