Dreger: Maple Leafs 'don't have the stomach to pay (Dave Bolland) $5-plus million per year'

Thomas Drance

The Toronto Maple Leafs and pending unrestricted free-agent forward Dave Bolland have publicly indicated their mutual interest in working out a contract extension, but its been clear for a while that the two sides were far apart on the ticket price of Bolland's next deal.

The Maple Leafs have already committed close to $49 million in salary cap space to just 12 players for next season per capgeek.com. With the upper limit of the salary cap projected to come in at $69-70 million for next season and restricted free-agents like Jake Gardiner and Cody Franson still to sign, Toronto won't have much in the way of flexibility going into the draft and free agency. 

All told, Dave Nonis, Brendan Shanahan and company cannot afford to behave in a spendthrift manner while filling out their 23-man roster. Signing Bolland to an extension with a cap-hit of $5 million per season or more, for example, would appear to be a luxury item that falls outside of Toronto's price range. 

Which is essentially what TSN's Darren Dreger suggested in an appearance on TSN1050 radio in Toronto on Tuesday morning:

With Dave Bolland you get what you get provided that he's healthy, and that's going to be the biggest issue for the Toronto Maple Leafs - and for any team. And the negotiation has to be fair, and to this point, the Toronto Maple Leafs don't believe that it is. In terms of the player they're getting in Dave Bolland - they have a great appreciation, would love to keep him - they just don't have the stomach to pay him $5-plus million per year.

Bolland was excellent for the Maple Leafs this season before sustaining a gruesome ankle injury in early November, but he wasn't the same upon his return. If he's healthy he's a useful two-way centerman with a reputation of raising his game in the postseason. In terms of production rate, however, Bolland ranks 227th among the 292 forwards that have played over 2500 even-strength minutes over the past five seasons.