Oct 12, 2013; Toronto, Ontario, CAN; Toronto Maple Leafs head coach Randy Carlyle watches during the warm up before a game against the Edmonton Oilers at Air Canada Centre. Mandatory Credit: Nick Turchiaro-USA TODAY Sports

Nazem Kadri vs. Tyler Bozak and the Leafs’ Failing Meritocracy


The word I would associate Randy Carlyle‘s run with the Toronto Maple Leafs so far is “meritocracy”. Meritocracy is defined as:

  • A system in which advancement is based on individual ability or achievement.

Randy Carlyle was praised for running the leafs based more on a system of playing better equals more ice time. According to some in the media, his work with players and being a more direct coach in comparison to the previous regimes help led the Leafs to their first playoff appearance since 2004.

In case you don’t know what my position is on Randy Carlyle the coach, I’ll briefly give you my take; I believe Randy Carlyle is an average coach. An average coach. His teams have been poor in puck possession, his line matching abilities are overrated, and he was lucky in having the fourth-highest save percentage while in Anaheim. The only thing that I can positively say about him as a coach is he has a Stanley Cup ring. I’d go further but why would I when the good people at Pension Plan Puppets did it in five elegant parts.

The idea of the Leafs being run by a meritocracy is false. The reality is the Leafs are being moulded to the ideologies that Randy Carlyle believes in: toughness, tenacity, and other intangibles that some believe are real and others think are not. Carlyle obviously has every right to mould his team however he sees fit, but confusing it with a meritocracy is silly and borderline stupid.

Nazem Kadri has played just over 59 minutes of five-on-five time this year (before last night’s game vs. Edmonton). Tyler Bozak has played just over 77 minutes in the same situation. While Bozak has gotten 32.6% of his starts in the offensive zone, Kadri has a paltry 24.6 via Extra Skater. Despite this and the small dirty fact that Bozak has been the number-one centre for the Leafs, Kadri has outperformed him possession-wise:

CA/TMCA Corsi% CF/TMCF
Tyler Bozak 1.12 0.436 0.95
Nazem Kadri 1.02 0.488 1.24

So far this year, Kadri has been much better defensively than Bozak and his teammates suffer when he’s off the ice, compared to Bozak who’s pretty much average in this department. This isn’t just based off a five-game sample, either. Here’s last year’s table:

CA/TMCA Corsi% CF/TMCF
Tyler Bozak 0.98 0.452 1.03
Nazem Kadri 0.94 0.471 1.07

Though not as decisive, there’s still an advantage for Kadri in this debate. This brings up the myth of fair being fair on the Leafs. If Bozak is being outplayed by Kadri by a sizeable margin, why is Kadri at times being forced to play with the likes of Colton Orr and Troy Bodie while Tyler Bozak is still allowed to drag down James van Riemsdyk and Phil Kessel‘s production? If this was a true meritocracy, wouldn’t the roles be switched?

For another example, Leo Komarov played 182.97 more minutes than Matt Frattin last year. This table would tell you it should be the other way around, right?

CA/TMCA CF% CF/TMCF
Leo Komarov 0.89 0.457 0.97
Matt Frattin 0.94 0.481 1.11

While this isn’t as big a difference as Kadri-Bozak, Frattin still outplays Komarov which again devalues the myth of equal opportunity. Let’s not forget how Mikhail Grabovskiand Clarke MacArthur were criminally misused by Carlyle last year which led both of them to pretty much call Carlyle an idiot.

There has been a double standard that Carlyle has used since being the Leafs coach in late 2011-12. Carlyle clearly has his favourites (Mark Fraser, Orr, Frazer McLaren, Bozak) who can do no wrong in his eyes. Bozak could miss every scoring chance in the world (which he pretty much does already) and still go to sleep knowing he’ll get to centre JVR and Kessel next game. Orr and McLaren could take dumb penalty after dumb penalty and know they’ll get to face-punch another goon later on (they were fifth and 32nd in penalties taken per hour last year). Fraser can get into meaningless scraps knowing he won’t be taken to task by Carlyle and will still have his spot assured in the lineup.

Kadri has been hailed as the guy who’s benefited from a meritocracy in comparison to the Ron Wilson era where Kadri vs. Ron Wilson was the main event tilt in the Toronto media. The reality is Kadri excelled in spite of Randy Carlyle’s failing meritocracy due to being an underrated two-way player who benefited from a sky-high shooting percentage. A true meritocracy would see Kadri being on the top line with JVR and Kessel while Bozak mans the third line. Although if this was really a true meritocracy, MacArthur and Grabovski would still be Toronto Maple Leafs while Bozak would be somebody else’s albatross of a contract.

Tags: Featured Nazem Kadri Popular Toronto Maple Leafs Tyler Bozak

  • im4theLeafs

    You really fail to mention that Kessel who is one of the Leafs leading scorers(Lupul) really enjoys playing with Bozak and he has better faceoff skills.

    • Mohamed Mohamed

      Faceoffs are not worth being an albatross of a contract and a much inferior player than Grabovski. He’s a third line player max

    • Wonderogre

      Except the fact that Bozak is your “better” face-off man is more a testament to the team’s lack of face-off prowess (and an indictment of whoever put the team together) than any judge of Bozak’s actual ability (he’s not very good at face-offs).

      • im4theLeafs

        I guess that if you have a guy that is over 50% that is good and last year Bozak was over 50%, that made him one of the better face-off players in the league, and at Mohamed, the guy(Bozak) is still 1Mill cheaper than Grab was with the Leafs and he lost his second line center job to Kadri. Quit beating the drums for Grabo, he is gone and so is the way tooo large a contract for the guy of 5.3Mill per.

        • Kurtis Friesen

          Yeah that Grabs contract was nothing but trouble from Day 1. More than 5 mil for a guy who won’t play on the top line?? Terrible. Plus Carlyle is a dictator.. a great coach.. but a dictator and will always get his way. He hated Grabs. And word on the street is Carlyle is also not a big fan of Gardiner.. could be the reason why we trade him. That, along with the rise of Morgan Rielly.

          • Wonderogre

            For some reason this thread popped up in my ‘Discus’ or whatever notifications, and I just looked over it and laughed. And laughed and laughed and laughed.

  • awineguy

    So you start your article by stating that the word YOU would associate with Carlyle’s tenure is meritocracy and then proceed to attempt to try and deny your own statement……….yeah that makes sense.

    Make up your mind, also “his line matching abilities are overrated”, over rated by who ? By you with your vast experience as an NHL coach ? By the guys who sit in their Mom’s basement tracking Corsi instead of actually watching the games ?

    Is there going to come a point where Carlyle’s “luck” with high save percentage is equated with the success of the collapsing defense he uses or does that just not fit into the statistical matrix the “Fenwick-Corsi” group adore ?

    I miss Grabovski but the Leafs management but the Leafs hierarchy wanted Clarkson and so some dollars had to go but you pretty much lose whatever shred of credibility you have when you start defending Clarke MacArthur, taking away his outlier year of 2010-11 and you have an “offensive” player who averages less than .5ppg while playing with zero physical edge and on the wrong side of +/- for his career.

    • Tim Bayer

      And Clarkson is averaging 0.4 points per game over his career. Add in the fact he’s making $2-million more and his contract is five years longer, I’ll take MacArthur.

      • awineguy

        You’d be the only one, outside of MacArthur’s immediate family I suppose, though some of them might be more objective.

        • Wonderogre

          Disclaimer: I am not a Toronto fan (I bear them no ill will – Kadri rocks). I live on the opposite side of the continent.

          That said, I know of no well-informed and intelligent NHL fan who would not take MacArthur over Clarkson, even disregarding their contacts. MacArthur has been a superior player over his career and is younger, and there is no rational reason why any team would want to replace him with a worse player at a mind-bogglingly inflated and over-extended contract.

          Anyway, if you’d been paying attention, you would have noticed that Toronto’s luck had already begun running out towards the end of last season (about half a season is a pretty good hot streak to sustain despite average coaching and Tyler Bozak First Line Center). Hell, if you take away nothing else from the Bruins series, take away the fact that you only began to compete when injuries forced Carlyle away from icing his trucculent, intagible-laden favorites and towards giving his actually skilled players more time.

          • Tim Bayer

            Now this guy makes sense.

          • Mohamed Mohamed

            I like this guy

          • Kurtis Friesen

            About Clarkson, he’s only been given a chance to score in the NHL since DeBoer took over in NJ. Coincidentally, his best season as a junior was under Peter DeBoer.

            Since DeBoer took over NJ, he put Clarkson on the top line and he scored 30. In the shortened season, he scored 15 (panning out to a 26-goal pace for 82 games).

            To me, just offensively, he’s more valuable than McArthur who would have never scored 30 goals.. maybe mid-20s.

            McArthur always frustrated me as a fan because he was so streaky.. like a Niklas Hagman.

            Clarkson brings an important trait in the Top 6.. toughness. JVR brings that stubbornness in front of the net, but to have a 25-30 goal scoring enforcer? That’s rare. I think he could score 40, but that opinion seems to be only mine. We’ll see though.

          • Kurtis Friesen

            I just don’t think it’s fair to compare PPG numbers between a guy who has always been given minutes as a scorer versus a guy who has been strictly an enforcer for most of his career and given a lot less opportunity.

          • Tim Bayer

            If you want to look at points-per-hour, which accounts for differences in ice time, MacArthur is at 1.972 over the last three seasons, while Clarkson is at 1.281. MacArthur is the more consistent point-producer. Clarkson had the 30-goal season, but Nik Kulemin had one of those as well. Now he’s already 29, so he’s well past his physical prime. He had 15 last year, but he only had five in his last 34 games. That looks pretty streaky to me. Basically, I’m not saying he’s useless, just that he’s horribly overrated and overpaid.

          • Kurtis Friesen

            First of all, looking at the last three years is irrelevant to my point. I was referring to the previous TWO seasons where he has actually been used offensively.
            Second, MacArthur scored eight goals last season. Eight. He was also demoted to the FOURTH line in the playoffs! The playoffs! Talk about a player completely regressing as a scorer. Clarkson regardless of anything else, has massively out-produced MacArthur the last two years.
            And should you not base future implications off the immediate past? 45 goals versus 28 solidifies my vote. And that’s based purely on offensive value.
            The toughness factor is extremely important to a Top 6 that lacks size.

          • Kurtis Friesen

            What I really think is intangible about the guy us his leadership. He is captain material. With Phaneuf’s future cloudy, this could have been the best move we’ve made in a long time. He reminds me a lot of Owen Nolan. A great leader who could scrap, score and do just about anything. We’ll see but I think he becomes the captain in due time. LeBrun says Edmonton offered him more dough but passed on it to play in our great city. Ironically, Dion could be on his way to Oil Country.

          • Wonderogre

            LOL

          • Mohamed Mohamed

            Go home Kurtis, you’re drunk

          • Kurtis Friesen

            I’m drunk??? Just like Carlyle has nothing to do with Toronto’s success. Penalty kill’s best showing since the last lockout was 28th.. now it’s a Top 3.. yeah Randy has nothing to do with that at all. He’s just lucky. LOL.. jeez..

          • Mohamed Mohamed
          • Kurtis Friesen

            LOL… okay, I’m assuming you’re referring to 5-on-5 GA?? So we’re 9th in the league.. around the middle of the pack. I didn’t bother to look into previous years because of the point being so irrelevant. Regardless, the fact that you think going from the absolute worst PK for nearly a decade between not one but TWO different coaches to posting the league’s Top 3 PK % is beyond hilarious.
            Special teams is easily the biggest reason for success. Opportunistic scoring on the powerplay doesn’t hurt the shooting % either..

          • Tim Bayer

            Nolan had two 40-goal seasons and four 30-goal seasons by the time he was Clarkson’s age. Can we stop with the ridiculous comparisons, please?

          • Kurtis Friesen

            Can you calm down.. I said he REMINDS me of Owen Nolan.

          • Guest

            The way he plays.. the style of player. But as I’ve already stated, Clarkson is only peaking now because it’s a very different league than when Nolan played. Guys like Clarkson don’t get a chance anymore, they’re given “enforcer” minutes. The league was full of enforcer/scorers in the 90s.. not at all the case anymore.
            Clarkson didn’t drink some magic potion and suddenly have the ability to pace 29 goals over the last two seasons. One coach gave him a shot (as he did in his most successful junior year) and he produced.
            Just sayin..

          • Kurtis Friesen

            The way he plays.. the style of player. But as I’ve already stated, Clarkson is only peaking now because it’s a very different league than when Nolan played. Guys like Clarkson don’t get a chance anymore, they’re given “enforcer” minutes. The league was full of enforcer/scorers in the 90s.. not at all the case anymore.
            Clarkson didn’t drink some magic potion and suddenly have the ability to pace 29 goals over the last two seasons. One coach gave him a shot (as he did in his most successful junior year) and he produced.
            Just sayin.

          • Wonderogre

            Yeah he was demoted because your coach isn’t very good. The guy was one of the possession driving bright spots (the others being Kadri and Gardiner – interesting) on a not very successful possession driving team propped up by unsustainable goaltending. Clarkson outscored him slightly on the strength of averaging nearly 3 more minutes a game (that’s total, which includes 2 minutes more PP time) and playing on a far stronger possession team and with better players.

            I mean, good luck and all and I sure hope he works out since otherwise your coach and GM are going to look pretty dumb, but in when placed in context there is basically no facet of the game at which Clarkson excels

          • Kurtis Friesen

            Hold on, New Jersey had better players??? NJ was terrible. Henrique, Elias annnnd.. yup that’s it. Nobody ever excels scoring in New Jersey because they’re not a high-scoring team. THey’ve always been defense-first, look no further than the game’s most viscous sniper Kovalchuk. This guy never scored under 40 in Atlanta, scored over 50 twice, came to New Jersey and never hit 40. Coincidence? Not a chance. His last stint in Atlanta he scored 31 goals, the next full season in NJ he scored 31… in 81 games…

          • Kurtis Friesen

            Clarkson actually outscored Kovalchuk in the short year… regardless, management can’t look much dumber than they would if they resigned Phaneuf for his price. He’s having a solid first few games here, but he’s been one of the biggest defensive liabilities over his time in T Dot so far.
            My point about MacArthur was he was consistently regressing until he was finally put on the 4th line during the playoffs. He never had any major impact on a game, not his style. He would, now and then, make the odd nasty dangle but that’s it. He is simply not an impact player.

            Oh look.. Clarkson has as many goals as MacArthur this year.. lol

          • Wonderogre

            You should read more carefully. I said Clarkson played with better players – which he did. Go feel free to look up his most common linemates and compare them to MacArthur’s.

          • Kurtis Friesen

            Fair enough, but if MacArthur was good enough he could have earned minutes on the powerplay. He is a “scorer” afterall.
            MacArthur had plenty of opportunity to play on the second line, consistently. If I’m not mistaken, the year CLarkson scored 30 goals, MacArthur played on the Leafs’ most productive line. But this is purely looking at offensive touch, which is only half my point.
            Clarkson brings that Darcy Tucker-style player back to Toronto. A spark-plug, a leader and scoring touch to boot. MacArthur is only one of those three.. when he isn’t slumping.
            Be assured, Clarkson didn’t sign a big deal based solely on scoring ability… two completely different players and Clarkson outdoes MacArthur in recent play. Sky is still the limit for Clarkson. MacArthur hit his absolute peak and won’t reach it ever again.
            I’m willing to bet Clarkson still outscores MacArthur this season. Hell, he’s only two assists behind and tied for goals.

          • awineguy

            MacArthur has never had a single season when his IFenwick or ICorsi numbers have been as good as Clarkson’s. If you’re going to make a stand on the new stats, then stand on them, and they show Clarkson is substantially better than MacArthur.

          • Wonderogre

            And if you’re going to make a claim about these statistics, it would be in your interest to know that Corsi and Fenwick numbers taken in isolation give you very little comparative information when looking at players on different teams (because your numbers are affected by the other 4 guys on the ice – big shocker I know). It’s pointless and a little laughable to compare absolute, unadjusted numbers between a player on a good possession team that’s missed the playoffs twice since the lockout, and one on a bad possession team that’s made the playoffs once since the lockout. Take a look at where their relative numbers are and how they ranked on their respective teams, and then you may have a point – assuming those numbers go your way (they don’t, but it should be a good exercise).

          • awineguy

            Are you sure you aren’t Wondertroll ?

          • Wonderogre

            Pretty sure, yup. Got nothing against you or your team. I think your coach is a little dumb and I think your team has management issues, but that’s not its fault. Anyway, my point stands: New Jersey has been a better or significantly better possession team than Toronto every year since the lockout except for one (09-10), and that is affect the numbers when you look at Mac and Clarkson’s individual stats, without adjusting for team performance.

          • awineguy

            No, you’re Wondertroll.

            You want to take a look at the gap between Mac, ooh love the nickname usage acuz you two are so tight, and Clarkson and then the relative difference between their teams, all three of Mac’s because he’s so popular he gets moving around.

            I’ll let you do it yourself, also compare where they rank on their respective teams in iCorsi, or iFenwick, just for giggles.

            As for your opinions about Carlyle and Leaf’s management, well you’re welcome to them, but remember what opinions are like.

          • Wonderogre

            Well, okay, and you are a plain idiot if you don’t understand the problem with comparing unadjusted individual corsi and Fenwick stats across teams (let alone those that have vast possession stat differences). You sure must meet a lot of trolls if the only qualification for the position is saying something that goes a mile over your head. A LOT of trolls. Yes, my opinion on Carlyle may be an opinion, but unlike yours it’s at least based on stats and trends I understand.

          • Wonderogre

            Hey guys how’s that David Clarkson working out for you? What’s that? The two players you bought out would be your 3rd and 4th highest scorers (and better possession players than just about everyone else) and you’re still paying Bozak how much? Hahah ahahahaha haha.

          • awineguy

            Hey trolly, to say that Clarkson hasn’t worked out yet is true but he wasn’t signed to a one year deal. As for the rest well I assume you mean MacArthur and Grabovski, though Toronto didn’t buy out MacArthur – I know fact checking is a problem for you. Yes they are having nice years and that great possession is helping their teams to be 10th and 11th in the conference respectively, so they’ll be able to work on their golf possession numbers early.

            As for Bozak, Toronto is paying him $4.2M per year, he’s got a higher ppg than either MacArthur or Grabovski …… but again those fact thingies are hard for you. Have a trolly day :)

          • Wonderogre

            The fact that he wasn’t signed to one year is not something you should be looking to as the bright side of this equation. Hahaha. And yeah, your team didn’t buy out MacArthur, they just screwed him over until he left. Sorry. I’ll get my facts straight. Like for example that Bozak only scores and only looks not terrible to you because he plays with Kessel and JVR (http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=1204&withagainst=true&season=2013-14&sit=5v5) and is a serious liability when he’s not on the ice with those two guys (who are seriously talented and can make even Tyler Bozak look like an NHL player). Regardless, good job getting rid of two great players (remember your party-line criticisms of them? LOL!) and replacing them with way too many years of Bozak and Owen Nol-er, that is, David Clarkson.

            As for those teams MacArthur and Grabs found themselves on, well, your team is dead last in the league in even strength possession and shot differential. So good luck with the whole crashing back to Earth thing once your unsustainables cease being sustained. ;)

            PS: ain’t no shoot-out in the playoffs, just fyi

          • Wonderogre

            Hey Awineguy, How are things going? Long time no chat. I see I was completely 100% wrong about my assessments of your front office and team, and you were 100% correct.

            I mean, at least if we’re looking at things from a Bizarro Opposite Universe perspective.

            Hope you enjoy Clarkson’s remaining 6 years as much as this one. LOL.

          • Tim Bayer

            OK, last two seasons: Clarkson – 1.448 pts/60; MacA – 1.807. http://stats.hockeyanalysis.com/showplayer.php?pid=235

            I don’t really understand how you can go on about how MacA was given more ice time three years ago, then turn around and ignore the fact Clarkson was a first liner last year and MacA was a third liner. MacA also still had three more assists than Clarkson, despite the fact he saw less minutes. That tells me that if Clarkson’s scoring dries up, like it did last year, he’s not going to be contributing much else to the team. You can go on about toughness and intangibles but really I don’t think he’s very good.

          • Kurtis Friesen

            I’m talking about GOALS. When you don’t have a team to pass to, it’s kind of hard to get many assists. When we’re comparing two players on different teams, it is terribly inaccurate to compare points versus comparing goals… the person’s actual ability to put the puck in the net, not happening to touch the puck just before someone else actually puts it in.
            The fact that Clarkson will play on the second line on a deeper Toronto team than last year says it all. MacArthur on this team, at his absolute best, is a third liner.
            My whole point is MacArthur’s steady decline as a point-producer.. the only role he is supposed to play. If MacArthur is playing as well as Clarkson has the last two years, would he ever be demoted to the third and fourth lines? NO.
            Even further, he was given plenty of time to produce, as his actual demotion came at the end of last season. He only played on the fourth line when in the playoffs… when it mattered.

          • awineguy

            How’s MacArthur’s goals/60 working out this year ?

      • awineguy

        Career season by season ICorsi for the two, since you guys seem to live and die by the new stats:

        2008-09:
        MacArthur – 10.996
        Clarkson – 14.704

        2009-10
        MacArthur – 10.514
        Clarkson – 15.575

        2010-11
        MacArthur – 12.021
        Clarkson – 16.348

        2011-12
        MacArthur – 14.303
        Clarkson – 15.739

        2012-13
        MacArthur – 11.825
        Clarkson – 17.839

        I’m not much on these stats but aren’t the higher numbers better ? Like every year better ? Usually by 25% or more better ?

    • Mohamed Mohamed

      We’re not allowed to block guys right Tim? Cause I would right now

      • awineguy

        Feel free to block, given your level of analysis it’s unlikely I’ll be reading anything else you submit anyway.

        • Tim Bayer

          No, nobody’s getting blocked. We encourage alternate viewpoints on this site and appreciate your thoughts, awineguy. Although the mom’s basement and “don’t even watch the games” jokes are kinda old.

          • awineguy

            Sorry Tim but when the author makes statements like “So far this year, Kadri has been much better defensively than Bozak” and “Kadri excelled..due to being an underrated two-way player” it does make me wonder if he’s actually watching the games.

          • Mohamed Mohamed

            And when you tell me about how god like Tyler Bozak is, it makes me wonder whether you actually look at numbers and aren’t just a troll who agrees with the hyperbolic crap from the media towards the importance of Tyler “I’m a third line center” Bozak

    • Mohamed Mohamed

      1) +/- is the worst stat in hockey cause it judges players worth on an event that rarely happens. For example, the Kings players who were on the ice when Quick let in the Toskala like goal got a minus. Was it their fault that Quick had the brain fart? No. Done!

      2) Read this and your idea of Carlyle and his system is nullified: http://www.pensionplanpuppets.com/2013/6/17/4436736/randy-carlyle-coaching-myths-part-five-shot-distance

      3) It’s cute that you don’t think I watch the games cause after I track the first 10 games, I’ll be posting Zone Entry stats and linking it to corsi numbers. But hey, if you still want to be an ignorant person who thinks statistical analysis has no place in hockey (and it equals living in a basement) besides incredibly flawed metrics like +/-, have a nice life and get some help

    • ACMEsalesrep

      Carlyle’s defensive strategy has led to more shots against from all areas of the ice. There is nothing about it that can be considered a “success”. It’s a collapsing defense, all right, but not in the sense you think.

  • Will Alexander

    Bozak isn’t a traditional 1st line center but he is still the Leaf’s best option for sure. Bozak has much better awareness than Kadri, emphasized by Kadri’s 11 giveaways so far into the season compared to Bozie’s 4.

    Bozak is better at faceoffs than Kadri who is frankly terrible at them and would be even worse going up against the other team’s 1st line. Maybe Carlyle looked at what other successful teams are doing like the Detroit Red wing’s first line… Todd Bertuzzi skates with Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. I’m sure Daniel Alfredsson is a better player than him but in order to increase their depth they have him on the 3rd line.

    Similarly for the Leafs, Bozak can compete against other first line centers on face-offs which Kadri can not and provides enough of a physical presence to give JVR and Kessel the ice space to be productive. If you think the top line should have the best 3 players on the team and the 2nd line the next 3 best and so on, you don’t know a thing about hockey.

    • Wonderogre

      Probably the Leafs shouldn’t have been backed into a position where Tyler Bozak becomes their de facto no. 1 center in the first place. Regardless, ‘awareness’ is a bit of a nebulous concept. Kadri is much better than Bozak at driving possession (and basically everything besides faceoffs and still needing to learn about defensive zone play), and combined with his other statistics, having more giveaways suggests that he had more puck possession – very believable given Bozak’s possession stats. The overall difference in the quality of competition between the two is quite small, but the difference in their contribution to moving the puck and generating offensive chances is immense.

      Yes, you don’t necessarily want to have your best forwards on the same line (although the style a team plays can affect this), but you also don’t want to play a developing player with metric tons of talent with a fourth line scrub who wouldn’t be in the NHL if it wasn’t for his willingness to punch people. Bozak is not a very good hockey player, and when he doesn’t play with Kessel (eg: a guy who would score regardless whom he plays with and make the players around him better) it shows. Moreover, sacrificing an actually effective centerman for purposes of a guy who is better at face-offs is a questionable strategy. Kadri may be worse at face-offs, but despite that and despite starting significantly fewer o-zone shifts, Kadri somehow manages to a higher o-zone end differential (by a factor of almost three!!) and a far better influence on a positive shot *and chance* differential (as well as just about every other possession statistic), suggesting that a superior player who isn’t very good at face-offs is a better choice than a superior face-off man who isn’t very good at playing.