When Dave and the staff here at Blue Seat Blogs first conjured up the concept of “Stay or Go” posts, they were originally meant to be for current roster players on the verge of free agency. Although Boyle isn’t a free agent this offseason — his deal is up next year — I think it’s worth discussing moving the big fella given our cap issues and some of our roster needs.
By no means am I part of the “Boyle is too soft” crowd, nor do I think we need to acquire players with reputations for taking guys heads off, as some have suggested. No, the bottom 6 help I’m looking for should resemble what you’ve been watching in Boston, LA, Chicago, Pittsburgh, even Ottawa. If you watched those teams closely, there’s a noticeable difference in foot speed between those respective team’s bottom 6 guys and that of our own. We are just too damn slow and Boyle exemplifies that point.
The key ingredients of the Rangers success that I’ve talked about for many years on this site are skating, effort and roster balance. Boyle and others in our bottom 6 have always had the efforting part of the equation (thanks Torts), but strong skating and the correct balance of offense and defense do not exist in this area of our roster.
The Rangers don’t really have a lot of top end skill up front, and it can’t always be the Rick Nash and Derek Stepan Show. Until Kreider proves he can be an elite talent, or Hagelin takes a major step forward, the Rangers will have to be an offense by committee-type team. This means our third line next year will have to step up and provide some pop. Do you really see Brian Boyle fitting that mold at this point? I don’t.
If we traded him, I know there’d be some concern about the penalty kill and overall roster depth. However, the solution of moving Boyle to the 4th line no longer works for me anymore. With the cap coming down to $64M, you can’t really be paying a 4th line player $1.7M. And it really shouldn’t be that hard to replace a guy who had more than 85 forwards in this league ahead of him in total penalty kill minutes.
Boyle would probably be best served on team like Phoenix or Florida, where they could let him stand around in the neutral zone in those 1-4 or 1-2-2 traps. For us, if our new coach is smart, he’ll continue implementing a 2-1-2 forechecking system and he’ll compose a third line that can actually get the puck moving north.
Perhaps J.T. Miller could fill Boyle’s role. Perhaps that role will go to Oscar Lindberg. If neither of those options work internally, then maybe we’ll have to look outside of the organization for a solution. Either way, the Rangers need to upgrade their bottom 6 and it likely starts with moving Boyle.