I have the icky feeling, with rumors we've heard elsewhere, that this is going to be the biggest debate of the summer. And it comes after another season of Dave Bolland not quite being everything you want in the regular season, and being everything and more that you want in the postseason. Once again, Hawks fans are left feeling like they don't quite know how much they've got in Fabulous Weapon, and it may be that the organization is starting to get that feeling as well.
Dave Bolland's Stats: 76G 19G 18A 37P +0 47PIM -0.41 Behind The Net Rating, +0.86 QofC, -1.35 CORSI
The Good: First thing that jumps out is the 76 games played, which is the most Bolland had managed in four years. Second is the career high in goals, or matching that at least. That also came with seven power play goals, which blew away his previous career high. Did you know that he had seven power play goals? i didn't realize, that's for sure. And of course there was Bolland's excellent defensive work, which took a little time to click in early in the season but eventually rose to the standard we're used to. Then, look at all of this through the lens that Bolland played against the seventh-hardest competition among all forwards in the league, as well as the 8th-most defensive zone starts, and these stats look a little more special than they did. Most teams would gladly take 40 points from their 3rd line center.
The Bad: This section for Bolly is always a little hard to quantify. You look at the stat at the end of the year, his playoff performance ringing in your ears, and you can't really come up with anything. And yet, there are stretches of the regular season where Bolland just doesn't seem to be...there. You hardly notice him, which may be partially explained by the curse of being a checking center. But then he'll have those games where he makes a brilliant play from the goal line or undresses Ryan Suter or unleashes what is a better-than-you-think shot, and you wonder why you don't see it more often. 19 goals is a fine return, but you can't escape the feeling that it should be 25. 37 points certainly clears acceptable, but you wonder why it isn't 50. Oh, and he still sucks at faceoffs, even though it appears that Q doesn't know that.
Contract: Two years left at a hit of 3.3M
Stick Around Or Hit The Bricks: If it's me, Dave Bolland doesn't go anywhere unless the return could be described as making us all "tumescent." While the complaints are there, I don't see how giving up one of the best 3rd line centers in the league to band aid the 2nd line spot and make your 3rd center spot weaker makes any sense. Especially when Patrick Sharp is still available to play center. Marcus Kruger does not have the snarl to replace Bolland. Phillip Danault has so much farther to go. And Bolland, in that role, is simply too special. The power play would benefit from running an overload with Bolland working from the goal line, because he's the best the Hawks have from that position. He's still an excellent penalty killer. He comes up biggest in the biggest moments. It simply is too much to let go of, unless you absolutely have to. And the Hawks don't.