Since scoring the Stanley Cup-winning goal for the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013, Dave Bolland’s career has taken a bit of a nosedive.
Days after celebrating that Stanley Cup win Bolland was traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. He played only 23 games that season thanks to an ankle injury, but that didn’t prevent him from signing a lucrative five-year, $27.5 million contract with the Florida Panthers that offseason.
Now, after 78 games and just seven goals with the Panthers, he and his $5.5 million salary are headed to the AHL.
As George Richards reported, it’s just a conditioning stint for Bolland. He could be back in the lineup after the Christmas break. Still, it shows just how far Bolland has fallen, and what a mistake that contract was.
Bolland has three years left on his deal after this season. If the Panthers were to buy out those remaining years, it would cost them $14.3 million total, and still count $1.833 million toward their cap hit each season until the year 2023. Is that a realistic option for the cash-strapped Panthers? Or are they better off to pay a player to actually play for them, no matter how poorly?
The Panthers have to be hoping the conditioning stint can get him going again. He has zero points in his last 10 games, and just one goal in 25 games this season, which came back on October 24. He also hasn’t been able to stay on the ice. After his ankle injury in Toronto, he missed 29 games last season with Florida lower-and-upper-body injuries. He missed two games earlier this season due to a hand injury, but more notably has been a healthy scratch three times. Over his last five games he’s averaging only 11 minutes of ice time per game.