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Is the lockout threatening Boyle’s position with the Rangers?

October 17, 2012, by

Lindberg has been tearing it up in the SEL so far.

Any Ranger fan regularly casting eyes over the club’s prospects throughout the lockout will no doubt have seen the immense start to the season Oscar Lindberg has enjoyed over in the Swedish Elite League. With 13 points in his first 13 games, Lindberg has enjoyed an unexpected offensive explosion of sorts.

The great start by Lindberg – playing on the top line for Skelleftea – could at the same time cast uncertainty over current Rangers players hampered with no competitive hockey because of the lockout. Brian Boyle in particular should have cause for concern.

Known as a faceoff specialist, being strong in his own end, and now refining his offensive skills, Lindberg is the ideal type of player for the Rangers third line center position. Given his skill set, Lindberg could end up being the ideal compliment to Derek Stepan and Brad Richards as the third pivot on the Rangers, as he addresses so many needs for the club. This is especially true if his current scoring streak proves to be something more than just a hot streak.

Boyle, his 20 goal season aside, has proven incapable of scoring regularly enough to be a consistent offensive contributor. While Boyle is a valuable Ranger for his size, his penalty killing, and his work ethic, the Rangers need more skill, scoring, and face off prowess in the bottom six.

Should the lockout eat up a significant portion of the season – if not all of it – entering the next campaign and its subsequent training camp, Lindberg will have a huge advantage on Boyle in that he comes to the camp with plenty of confidence and actual hockey under his belt.

Perhaps another concern for Boyle is his contract situation. The fact that Boyle’s contract is up after next season places even more uncertainty around the popular Ranger. The cap era hockey, more than ever, is a business first and a sport second. If Glen Sather has to make a straight choice between the younger, cheaper Oscar Lindberg (or another promising prospect for that matter), or the more expensive Brian Boyle, then there is likely only one choice. Sather has proven time and again he’s not afraid of jettisoning a popular veteran if he deems it the right decision.

Boyle is one of several Rangers that could be disadvantaged by not looking for hockey overseas and for not being in game shape during the lockout.  Whether it’s the added competition in the form of point producing prospects, or the mere absence of competitive hockey, players such as Boyle – whose positions on the roster are far from critical to the team’s success – need to be serving a reminder to Sather and the coaching staff about how important they can be.

Now is not the time for Boyle to be resting up waiting for an NHL season to begin. Players such as Marian Gaborik (because of injury) and Ryan Callahan or Henrik Lundqvist (because of the benefits of rest) can afford not to be on the ice – Boyle doesn’t fit in their category. Plenty of inferior players compared to Boyle have found hockey jobs in Europe already. Perhaps it’s time that Boyle does the same thing, for the sake of his Rangers career.


  1. Dave says:

    Been thinking this for a while. With Halpern on a one year deal, Boyle may be resigned to a fourth line role real soon.

  2. 02Eagle says:

    Granted Boyle’s not in the same league as Callahan, but it seems to me to be faulty logic to claim that the lockout benefits Callahan by allowing him to rest up and lick his wounds while faulting an equally dinged up Boyle for not heading to Europe.

    • Dave says:

      @02Eagle, Lindberg wouldn’t be challenging for 2nd or 3rd line RW, he would be challenging for 3rd line C, which is Boyle’s position. Boyle’s future with the Rangers hinges on his ability to produce offensively this season.

      Lindberg is on par, if not better, with Boyle defensively. He is better on face offs, and can score more than Boyle.

      If Lindberg can transition to North America, then all of a sudden Boyle isn’t so comfortable.

      This has nothing to do with Cally.

      • Scully says:

        @Dave, he meant that as a reminder that Boyle got concussed at the end of last season and while Callahan is always getting dinged up, and thus the extra rest would do him good, in this particular offseason the rest could possibly do Boyle some good as well.

  3. The Suit says:

    If Miller or Lindberg steps up at some point, I wouldn’t mind trading Boyle.

    • Dave says:

      @The Suit, I’m thinking that Miller’s future is on the wing, not at center. But I’ve been very wrong about that kid since he was drafted.

  4. Walt says:

    If Lindberg is the real deal, and we do indeed hope that is the case, we stand to benefit with moving Boyle to the 4th line. Oscar is quicker, and having him skate with Hags, and Pyatt gives us a very good two way line. We would also get additional, consistant scoreing with these three all together.

    Boyle is much better suited for the 4th line duties. An additional benefit of him on the 4th line is he won’t get near the ice time that he would other wise get, but he would be better rested for the thing he does best, PK!

  5. Dave says:

    I’ve been saying it for two years now. When Boyle is the fourth line center, this team is deep enough to win. Almost there.

  6. Mikeyyy says:

    The reality is Boyle is in the NHL and these other guys are not.

    Lower league prowess does not translate to NHL success.

    He might be in trouble. He might not be. The good thin is competition will make them all better.

  7. Tim B says:

    4th line could be a defensive line. Rupp Halpern and Haley/Asham is the 4th line right now. In a year or 2. The 4th line could be Boyle-Lindberg-(defensive forward with capability of scoring). This is a line i would want if the opponent team has their best scoring threats out on the ice. The current 4th line wont see many minutes in a game because of Tort’s gameplan. The tough guy line is not reliable. Most but not all of them play defense. In addition to that how many of them can play offense? Halpern and Asham used to score but not any more. I would have a young 4th line that scores sometimes and plays very well defense. I really dont want to see 39 year old Halpern with 37 year old Asham with 32 year old Rupp. They are old and i cant personally trust them. Yes they cause trouble for the opposition but having 1 enforcer causes the same thing. Having a line of Boyle-Lindberg-and an enforcer who is solid in every zone of the icecan make the the rangers a more dangerous team to play against. It would also improve the penalty kill. As a healthy scratch i would have an enforcer just in case.

  8. TxRanger says:

    Yeah, I mean we all thought MZA was gonna be a savior and look how that worked out. Get these guys in camp and then we’ll talk.

    • Chris says:

      @TxRanger, There was always the concern that MZA’s game (and size) couldn’t translate to the NA game. Lindberg has none of those issues. While MZA’s skill offered hope and intrigue he had serious issues long before we signed him.

    • Dave says:

      @TxRanger, That’s why they are prospects, but MZA wasn’t lighting up the SEL when he came over.

  9. TxRanger says:

    Yeah, I’m pretty sure we heard the term greatest Norwegian of all time be thrown around and people shoed him in as first line winger.