Report: Maple Leafs struggle with Bolland’s $5M asking price

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The Toronto Maple Leafs have given Dave Bolland rave reviews in his short time with the team – at least in rare moments of health – but retaining his services might prove too costly.

TSN’s Darren Dreger reports that Bolland is looking for $5 million per year (maybe more) in a contract extension while the Leafs are leaning more toward the $4 million range, as Dreger compares the “difficult” negotiations to the talks they went through with Tyler Bozak. Such an asking price might just prompt a trade.

The 27-year-old is scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent this summer. Bolland’s current cap hit is $3.375 million. He just returned to Maple Leafs practice from that severed tendon injury on Feb. 21.

If these negotiations force a trade, Dreger reports that GM Dave Nonis seeks a top-four defenseman or top-nine forward. It sounds like he wants a player with term on his contract rather than a “rental” player.

The question of Bolland’s value could be interesting. When healthy, he’s fit in well in Toronto, scoring 10 points in 15 games while impressing head coach Randy Carlyle with¬†his work ethic. It’s also true that he does a lot of things that don’t show up in box scores (and by “things” one sometimes means “agitating opponents to the point of sometimes taking bad penalties”).

On one hand, he didn’t always put up great numbers despite being surrounded by talented teammates in Chicago; on the other, he’s one of those rare players who has “Stanley Cup-winning goal” on his resume.

It remains to be seen if that resume ends up impressive enough to land him a new deal with the Leafs or instead prices him out of Toronto and onto another roster (either at the deadline or as a free agent this summer).

Here’s the full TSN’s Insider Trading segment.