Pending free agent Bolland: ‘I want to be a Leaf’

Set for free agency, Dave Bolland says he wants to remain a Toronto Maple Leaf. (Derek Leung/Getty)

Dave Bolland hopes to end his career as a Maple Leaf, but his playing time in Toronto could be a wrap after just 23 games in blue and white.

“I want to get something done here, and I want to be a Leaf till my career is done,” Bolland, a pending unrestricted free agent, told Sportsnet 590 The Fan’s Brady and Walker Tuesday morning. “Come July 1, I do have that option [to test the open market], but one of my top priorities is staying here.”

The 2013-14 season, one in which he was hampered by an injury and ended with a late-season collapse, left a sour taste in Bolland’s mouth. Remember, this is the man who scored the Stanley Cup-winning goal for Chicago last spring.

“Even watching Chicago in there right now,” the 27-year-old centre said, “you want to be on the ice. You want to be in these games in the playoffs. You get goosebumps every time you watch it because you were there the previous season winning the Cup.”

Dave Bolland talks free agency, rehabilitation, and the London Knights

In late February, Sportsnet’s Nick Kypreos reported that Bolland was seeking a seven- or eight-year extension from the Leafs to the tune of $40 million or more.

Bolland’s current contract, which expires July 1, carries a $3.375 million cap hit. The Leafs acquired the Mimico, Ont. native, from Chicago in exchange for the 51st and 117th picks in the 2013 draft and a fourth-round pick in 2014.

Although the Leafs stood pat at the March 5 trade deadline, Kypreos reported that the team was making calls to gauge interest in Bolland at the time. Of course, this was before Brendan Shanahan was hired as the team president.

“Would we ever move him? He’s not unlike anyone else. We’d move him if a deal made sense,” Nonis told Sportsnet in February. “Unless it’s a deal that makes sense for us long-term, I can’t see us moving David Bolland.”

This past season Bolland quickly became a favourite of Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle. In addition to killing penalties, Bolland scored six goals with four assists through 15 games this season before suffering a lacerated ankle tendon on Nov. 2 against the Vancouver Canucks.

Bolland recalled sitting at home while the Leafs embarked on road trips. He’d turn on the TV to watch his temmates, but half the time he’d flick the game off out of frustration.

“It’s never fun sitting out and watching your team,” he said. “You get that itch to get out there.”

Bolland returned for eight more games and potted a couple more goals before the Leafs’ season ended in disappointment, but he never looked as comfortable on the ice as he did in October.

“With my injury, maybe I came back a little too soon. It was one of those things, you want to get back and help your teammates,” Bolland said. “I wanted to be back and show that I wanted to help my team.”

Bolland said he took a week or two off after the season ended, but that he’s back in the gym, strengthening his ankle.

“It was a short play, but the fans and everybody around were great to me,” Bolland said. “I love it here.”

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