Dave Bolland was seen skating with no equipment over the weekend, giving many Toronto Maple Leafs fans hope that all of their problems could soon be solved.
The Maple Leafs were 10-4 with a healthy Bolland before Zack Kassian’s skate removed him from the lineup at the start of November. Since the nasty injury occurred, Toronto hasn’t been anything close to the same team fans saw when Bolland was playing in October. Unfortunately, as talented as Bolland is, his return won’t be enough to completely turn around the Maple Leafs’ spiraling season.
When Bolland is healthy enough to get back into the lineup, he’ll provide Toronto with the type of endless heart and hustle they’ve desperately needed in the past three months. He’ll likely play a third-line center role, but if Nazem Kadri is struggling, coach Randy Carlyle won’t hesitate to move Bolland up to the second line.
That type of flexibility is part of what made Toronto so successful to begin the year as Carlyle could constantly rotate minutes between whichever center was playing at a higher level.
Bolland’s defensive abilities will also improve the team’s shorthanded unit as he’ll instantly become one of team’s best penalty-killers. He’ll also give the Maple Leafs a legitimate shutdown line as he was a major factor in shutting down Sidney Crosby in an early-season win over the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Bolland was arguably Toronto’s best player in their 10-4 start to the season, which is why many fans are labeling him as the savior to the team’s struggles. However, he still can’t single-handedly turn the season around or guarantee a playoff berth when he returns. He won’t be able to fix the team’s poor starts to games or how they can’t take advantage of injury-plagued opponents.
Bolland can’t fix the turnover-prone blue line or help minimize the drama surrounding the No.1 goaltender position. He can’t make Kadri more consistent or help Kessel be less streaky.
He will make the Maple Leafs harder to play against with his determination and physicality, but fans can’t expect him to solve all of the team’s problems. At this point, it seems that even Crosby himself wouldn’t be able to fix everything wrong with Toronto.