The terrible Tyler Bozak

Ok, let me justify that headline a little before people get all over me.  He isn’t completely terrible as in he shouldn’t be in the league terrible.  He’s just a terrible first line center, and probably not a very good second or third line center either (at least not until he improves defensively). He’d be an OK 4th liner and injury fill in depth player at close to minimum salary. Let me explain.

The last 2 seasons Bozak has mostly played with Phil Kessel and Joffrey Lupul became his second winger when he joined the Leafs. Those are two pretty solid wingers to play with so lets look at Bozak’s production with those two solid players.

I want to compare Bozak to other top 9 players and conveniently if we look at all forwards with 1250 minutes of 5v5 zone start adjusted ice time over the past 2 seasons we come up with 270 players which is precisely an average of 9 per team, or 3 lines per team. So, how does Bozak rank among these players?

So, despite playing predominately with first line players his individual offensive stats are at a 3rd line level.

So, what about PP situations?  There are 169 forwards with 250 5v4 PP minutes over the previous two seasons while Bozak has played 417:28 which puts him among the top 65 forwards in the league. How has Bozak fared?

Think about that for a minute.  Of 169 forwards with >250 5v4 PP minutes over the past 2 seasons he ranks 5th last in shots/60 and has the 30th worst first assists/60 rankings. That means he is playing on the PP but isn’t shooting much and isn’t a primary set up man for the shooters either.

The only redeeming factors for Bozak is that he seems to be developing into a really good face off guy and he seems to be able to play with an elevated shooting percentage. His 5v5 ZS adjusted shooting percentage ranks 30th of 270 over the past 2 seasons while his 5v4 PP shooting percentage ranks 14th of 169. If you look at Bozak’s shot locations for last season you will see that the majority of Bozak’s shots and goals come from close in and 5 of his 11 5v5 goals last season came on rebounds.

So, to summarize, Tyler Bozak doesn’t shoot much, isn’t a great playmaker, isn’t good defensively (explained elsewhere) and yet coaches seem to insist on using him as a first line center. His main contribution to a team is winning face offs and going to the opposing teams net waiting for the puck to come to him so he can pot an easy close in goal. It is not completely unreasonable to believe that a guy like David Steckel could give you as good or better performance on face offs and similar lackluster offensive results with better defensive play if given the same opportunities to play with top end players that Tyler Bozak has had. That isn’t to say I want Steckel to be the Leafs new first line center, I was just trying to put Bozak’s usefulness (or lack of) into perspective.


This article has 4 Comments

  1. I’d rather have bozak than grabo, Bozak does it all…wins faceoffs, kills penalties and has great vision. terrible article if you ask me

    1. I totally agree yeah that might be what statistics say but you don’t play hockey with statistics. I like Bozak he’s a good player. His job right now is not to shot but win face offs go to the net and if Kessel misses or gets robbed he puts in the garbage.

  2. It is pretty amazing how the media are reacting to being completely wrong on their assessment of the Leafs.

    T. Purcell this year would be the antithesis of Bozak as he puts up top off #’s. Overall, who’s team is tougher right now? Bozak kepping our top line close to even while the 2nd through 4th line guys “get it done”. Just because it isn’t supposed to work like this in ur mind, doesn’t mean Carlyle’s recipe is that bad.

  3. i can make in a second with different stats why kessel is the worst first line player and shouldnt be in second line either. Look at Phoenix couple years ago. They have best player with 54 points and made a play off. Bozak maybe isnt a point producer but in other aspect of game is very solid 2nd line center.

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