Tyler Bozak has witnessed Toronto’s new managerial regime clear out some of the previous regime’s bigger contracts, like Dion Phaneuf and Phil Kessel.
Which, in turn, has made Bozak well aware he could be the next one out the door.
“I think there is going to be changes this summer like there always is,” Bozak said, per the Toronto Sun. “We are not finishing in a great spot in the standings, so we have not done our job. I am sure things will be changed in the room, but who knows?”
The Bozak contract has long been a point of controversy in Toronto. A five-year, $21 million pact signed back in 2013, he’ll carry a $4.2 million cap hit through 2018 — at which time he’ll be 32 years old. Signed largely because of his chemistry with Kessel, Bozak was essentially miscast as a top-line center at the time of his signing, and now might not fit in the club’s future plans.
Given how swiftly GM Lou Lamoriello has worked on rebuilding the Leafs’ roster, it’s logical that Bozak could be shopped this summer. And it wouldn’t be that hard a sell — Bozak is a good offensive producer (31 points in 47 games this year, despite missing significant time with a concussion) and that $4.2M hit isn’t a killer, especially for teams with cap space looking for depth down the middle.
Of course, Bozak’s made it clear he wants to stay.
“I think the guys have been doing really good and have been earning their keep up here and staff and management have been really pleased with them,” he said. “That’s bright for the future. I hope I can be part of it.”
Bozak will be back in the lineup for the first time in 21 games tonight, when the Leafs take on the Ducks at the ACC.
Michael Brodzinski, who led all University of Minnesota blueliners with 21 points in 37 games this season, has opted to forgo his senior year to sign with San Jose, per Let’s Play Hockey.
The news, since confirmed by ESPN 1500, comes after Brodzinski spent three years with the Gophers and made this season’s All-Big Ten second team. He was originally drafted by the Sharks in the fifth round of the 2013 NHL Entry Draft.
Brodzinski, 20, will reportedly sign a three-year, entry-level deal that’ll kick in next season. He will turn pro immediately, however, by signing an amateur tryout contract with San Jose’s AHL affiliate, the Barracuda.
In a neat twist, it’s possible Brodzinski’s pro debut will come against his brother, Jonny, a L.A. Kings prospect currently playing for AHL Ontario.
Having spent most of this season as the Islanders’ third-string netminder, Jean-Francois Berube is doing all he can to prove he’s an NHL-caliber guy.
Fittingly, Berube stoned Mark Stone on this one.
Another twist in the Jonathan Drouin situation.
On Wednesday, AHL Syracuse announced that Drouin would be held out of tonight’s game against Utica after he missed this morning’s pre-practice team meeting.
More, from Syracuse Hockey:
BriseBois is Tampa Bay assistant GM Julien BriseBois, who serves as Syracuse’s GM. He’s been a central figure in the Drouin saga, which began earlier this year when the former No. 3 overall pick had his trade demands made public — not long after being demoted to the American League.
What followed was a club-imposed suspension in mid-January, after Drouin failed to report for a Syracuse game. The 20-year-old sat out roughly six weeks as Bolts GM Steve Yzerman explored trade possibilities, only to eventually retain Drouin and lift his suspension in early March.
Drouin has been quite productive since returning to the Crunch lineup, scoring five goals and six points in six games.
That’s important, because Yzerman is on record saying the Lightning may recall Drouin in time for the playoffs, calling a return to the club “very realistic.”
The Chicago Blackhawks have suspended AHL Rockford forward Garret Ross, after Ross was charged with one count of nonconsensual dissemination of a sexual image, also referred to as revenge porn.
More, from the club:
On Saturday afternoon, March 19, 2016, the Chicago Blackhawks and Rockford IceHogs learned of a legal proceeding against IceHogs player Garret Ross.
At that time, we excused Garret from team activities pending our preliminary review of the matter.
After further review, we have determined to suspend Garret indefinitely pending the outcome of the legal process.
Because this is a pending legal proceeding, we will have no further comment at this time.
Ross, 23, was a fifth-round pick in 2012 and has spent the last three seasons with Rockford. On Tuesday, IceHogs head coach Ted Dent told WREX13 Ross had been excused from practice due to “personal reasons,” though WREX noted Ross had been removed from the team’s lineup over the weekend.
Per CSN Chicago, the charge Ross faces is a Class 4 felony, which could be punishable by up to three years in prison. Revenge porn became illegal in Illinois last year, and the new law took effect on June 1, 2015.