Although this off-season’s NHL free agent pool wasn’t as deep as it has been in past years, it didn’t stop teams from signing players to big contracts.
One of those players awarded with a lucrative new deal was Maple Leafs centre Tyler Bozak, who re-signed in Toronto for five years and a total of $21 million.
As with any Leafs signing, there was rampant debate on whether or not it was a good move for the team.
Hockey Night in Canada host Don Cherry is a fan of the 27-year-old Regina native, but believes Bozak’s salary cap hit of $4.2 million is too high.
“$4.2 million for 12 goals? Of course he’s overpaid,” Cherry told Sportsnet 590 The Fan Wednesday. “But as we know there’s a situation with Kessel; they had to sign him. Nonis had no choice but to sign him.
On July 5, not long after Bozak signed on the dotted line, Phil Kessel sent out one of his rare tweets.
Kessel and Bozak are close friends and have developed solid chemistry on the ice, playing on the same line for the majority of the last few seasons.
Many, including Cherry, felt that re-signing Bozak will go a long way towards re-signing Kessel, who becomes an unrestricted free agent at the end of the upcoming NHL season.
“(Kessel’s) going to get paid and all of a sudden you take his good friend, probably his best friend, and you got your centreman, (Leafs general manager Dave Nonis) had no choice,” Cherry said. “What I’m saying is … at 12 goals he’s overpaid at $4.2 million.”
Cherry, who believes Bozak is worth between $3-3.5 million per season, added: “There’s situations where you have to sign guys and he just fell in that great spot where they had to sign him and once in a while in a lifetime you get lucky like that.”
Also on Wednesday, Cherry took to his Twitter account to discuss criticism fans have been throwing at Nonis and the Leafs over signing David Clarkson to a seven-year deal the same day they re-upped Bozak.