The Toronto Maple Leafs have made a lot of very questionable decisions this offseason.
They traded for Jonathan Bernier when they already had James Reimer. They allowed two of their best all-around forwards in Mikhail Grabovski and Clarke MacArthur leave. They re-signed two designated fighters in Colton Orr and Frazer McLaren to multiyear contracts.
But perhaps no more was as questionable was their decision on Friday to sign center Tyler Bozak to a five-year, $21 million contract.
Bozak has spent all four of his NHL seasons to date with the Maple Leafs and has put up nothing more than pedestrian numbers. What's concerning about that production is the amount of time he's spent playing alongside top-line talent, including consistent 30-goal scorer Phil Kessel, and he's still never been able to perform like a No. 1 center is expected.
His chemistry with Toronto's best player (Kessel) will likely be used as the justification, and Kessel himself seems pretty excited about it.
My buddy is back leaf nation— Phil Kessel (@PKessel81) July 5, 2013
Yes. But that's not exactly a good thing, Phil.
If a player needs to play next to great players to be able to produce, he's probably not worth nearly $5 million per season to your team.
And Bozak needs to play next to talented players to produce. Look at it this way: In Bozak's career he's played just 600 minutes of 5-on-5 play without Kessel on his wing. If you figure Bozak probably plays about 12-14 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-timer per game, that's probably equivalent to 40 or 50 games over the course of a season.
In those 600 minutes Bozak has scored exactly three goals and recorded just five assists.
If you had a player that recorded eight points over 40 or 50 games would you feel comfortable giving him $21 million over five years? You shouldn't.
But apparently the Leafs are.
They would have been better off keeping Grabovski and letting Bozak leave.