Tyler Bozak
Tyler Bozak
33-Year-Old CenterC
St. Louis Blues
2018 Fantasy Outlook
Bozak left the only NHL city he's ever known in free agency this past summer and headed to St. Louis. There, he'll be deployed in the role that best fits his assets: the third line. He can win faceoffs (53.6-percent career rate), play tough and is a solid leader on and off the ice. At 31, Bozak isn't the swiftest on skates, but he makes up for that with smarts. And while his overall production was down in 2017-18 (43 points), Bozak has averaged 50 points per 82 games since 2015-16. He could center Alexander Steen and Robby Fabbri, a third-line trio that will outmatch most opposing lines. The product is solid fantasy production. Read Past Outlooks
$Signed a three-year, $15 million deal with St. Louis in July of 2018.
Records three helpers
CSt. Louis Blues
March 19, 2019
Bozak posted three assists, including one on the power play, in a 7-2 victory against the Oilers on Tuesday.
Missing some games this season hurt, but Bozak still needs to have a tremendous final couple weeks to reach 30 assists for the third straight season. Still, because of his goal-scoring, Bozak is averaging about the same amount of points per game as last season. Bozak has 11 goals and 33 points over 64 games in 2018-19.
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Past Fantasy Outlooks
Bozak is a savvy veteran who has consistently played over his head while in the NHL. He's not a first-line, nor necessarily a second-line center, so his possession numbers always suffered. Last season, coach Mike Babcock cut Bozak's ice time from close to 20 minutes a game to 17:20 and the center suddenly became dependable. His CF% (Corsi For Percentage) jumped from an abysmal 46.3 to a very good 52.5, and Babcock began trusting him to take important defensive zone faceoffs. Wow. This season, Bozak will suit up as the Leafs' second-line center. Gone are his days on the first power-play unit – there's just too much young sniping talent on a growing team for him to get that kind of ice. Bozak will once again be the go-to defensive zone faceoff man and see time on the second power-play unit. He'll be hard-pressed to hit the 45-point mark this season and may find himself ticketed to a contender in a deadline deal.
Bozak lost his buddy, Phil Kessel, over the summer. And he’s likely to lose his Leafs jersey in a trade before the season is too old. But for now, he’s likely to be Toronto's second-line center behind Nazem Kadri, and Bozak has a chance to resurrect his all-around game under the tutelage of new coach Mike Babcock. He’s always been miscast as a top-line center, so this new role will be better suited to his skills. Bozak needs to improve his own-zone play, and he’ll need to adjust to new linemates Daniel Winnik and P.A. Parenteau. At this point, he’s a sub-50-point player with a $4.2 million cap hit (through 2017-18). That’s too rich for a rebuilding Leafs team, so look for them to ship him to a more competitive team. That means whatever value he delivers early is likely to decline as the season wears on.
When will Leaf fans accept Bozak as their top-line center? No, he doesn't fit the profile of a typical first-line stud pivot, but there are really only about 10 of those in the league. His detractors say he doesn't have the speed, talent or body type to be his team's best guy, but his career arc just continues to climb anyway. Last season, he delivered a career-best 49 points in 58 games -- that's 69 points prorated to a full season. He would have finished ahead of Ryan O'Reilly of the Avs at that rate. Then there's this intangible: linemate Phil Kessel plays his best hockey when his best friend, "Bozie", is on the ice with him. Here's a guy that many might choose to avoid, but you shouldn't. He's a 65-point guy if he stays healthy.
Bozak isn't a traditional first-line center, but that doesn't mean he isn't a valuable cog in the Leafs' machine. So far, he hasn't scored more than 47 points in a single season. But he logs heavy minutes, plays both special teams, takes every important face-off and has tremendous chemistry with linemate and roommate Phil Kessel. Sure, he's already 27, but he has just three-and-a-half years of NHL experience and could still turn into a Mikku Koivu type over the next couple years. Watch for him to near the 60-point plateau this season and deliver you solid power-play production.
The much-maligned Bozak is starting to become the Rodney Dangerfield of centers -- he just doesn't get the respect he's due. Sure, he has been miscast as a first-line center, but he has uncanny chemistry with Phil Kessel. The Leafs will experiment with James van Riemsdyk as Kessel's pivot and, if that's successful, Bozak will slip down to the third line. Sit on him at the draft until you know where he slots in -- it'll be the difference between maybe getting 40 points or almost definitely getting 60.
Miscast as a top-line center last season, Bozak finally gets to play the lower-line pivot role that better fits his skills and development needs. We like him as a third-liner this season but that will all depend on Matthew Lombardi’s health. Still, with so many injury risks (Lombardi, Tim Connolly) at center ice, Bozak should see enough ice time to net close to 40 points. Just don’t count on him for power-play points, PIMs or hits.
Bozak was a complete revelation in 2009-10. It's not that we didn't believe in his skills; it's just that, well, we didn't believe he'd ever really translate them so effectively (and so quickly) to the NHL. He works hard, is smart and tenacious, and can skate and pass like a strong, second-line center. But he's a borderline fantasy center, though -- 60-point passers really only have a place in extremely deep leagues.
Bozak was another hotly sought-after college free agent from the NCAA ranks this past season. Over 20 NHL teams, including all the Canadian squads, had expressed interest in signing the Saskatchewan native who scored eight goals and 15 assists in 19 games with the University of Denver last season. He projects as a solid, two-way center with speed and top-notch face-off skills. He's going to be overrated to Leaf fans -- draft and trade would be a great idea.
More Fantasy News
Pots goal in second
CSt. Louis Blues
March 8, 2019
Bozak lit the lamp in Thursday's 4-0 win over the Kings.
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Breaks standoff in third
CSt. Louis Blues
February 26, 2019
Bozak scored the game-winning goal in Tuesday's win over the Predators.
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Bags two apples
CSt. Louis Blues
February 19, 2019
Bozak dished out two helpers in Tuesday's win over the Maple Leafs.
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Two-point outing
CSt. Louis Blues
February 12, 2019
Bozak scored a goal and tacked on an assist in Tuesday's win over the Devils.
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Will get chance in top six
CSt. Louis Blues
February 2, 2019
Bozak is expected to center the second line in Saturday's game versus the Blue Jackets, Lou Korac of NHL.com reports.
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