When the Toronto Maple Leafs traded for Dave Bolland at the draft this past June it was viewed as a major addition to a Leafs team in desperate need for help down the middle of the ice. Early in his career Bolland developed a reputation as a solid defensive center capable of chipping in offensively all while getting under the opposition’s skin. What many need to realize is that Bolland has not been that player the past two seasons. Jesse Spector of The Sporting News wrote a great article following the Leafs’ acquisition of Bolland breaking down just how far he has fallen of late.
At his absolute best Bolland brings this to the Leafs lineup:
The question is, can Bolland become that guy once again? The main reason for the drop off in play has been because of his inability to stay healthy. Never the most durable of players, the countless injuries seemingly caught up to Bolland the past two years. By acquiring him Nonis and the Leafs are banking on the two time Stanley Cup champion re-discovering the form that made him such a valuable member of the Chicago Blackhawks. What concerns me is whether the Leafs (or anybody) should think Bolland’s injury troubles are behind him. Since becoming a full time NHLer Bolland has played in 347 of 492 (70%) regular season games. If Bolland was to continue along that trend this season he would be out of the Leafs’ lineup for 25 games. With their lack of depth down the middle (and the reality of carrying a short roster all season due to their salary cap problems), the Leafs can ill afford for Bolland to miss that much time.
Bolland has not gotten off to a good start on the injury front as he has been nursing a sore groin in training camp. It was reported on Tuesday that the new Leaf is not expected to miss any regular season action:
Carlyle feels Bolland will be good to go before the regular season begins (groin injury)
— David Alter (@DavidAlter590) September 24, 2013
It is a cause for concern when one remembers that Bolland missed some time in the 2013 Blackhawks playoff run with a groin injury as well. It has not been reported whether this is the same injury that visibly limited Bolland during the playoffs last spring or if this is something new. The Leafs could just be being careful with Bolland during training camp. There is no reason for a veteran like Bolland to strain himself prior to the season beginning. Hopefully this is more precautionary than anything else.
When he is in the lineup the Leafs are going to need Bolland to be at his best. Head Coach Randy Carlyle has always relied heavily on his shutdown center and Bolland was acquired to embody that role. On the bright side, one can expect Bolland to be motivated considering he is set to become an unrestricted free agent July 1st. If his injury troubles are behind him the Leafs have added a solid and necessary piece to their lineup. We’ll soon find out if Bolland can rediscover that form.