Often it is the smaller, less heralded moves that make the difference in playoff races. So as the Rangers approach the trade deadline in good form, but still with flaws, should they make any additions? In most cases you have to give to receive, and if the Rangers want to make a real upgrade to their team they will need to consider moving a current piece of the roster.
One player who has quietly had a solid season – even during the dark, inept start laid down by the Rangers – is Brian Boyle. He’s also one player whose future in New York is unclear. We have discussed here numerous times the merits of Boyle’s defensive game, his face-off skills, and his underrated role on the Rangers. While his 21 goal season has proved to be the exception to the rule, even his 10 points so far this year have been welcome help.
All that said, it appears Boyle may be an ex-Ranger soon. Larry Brooks published negative sounding comments from Boyle regarding his future, and pointed out his regressing role as the Rangers have become increasingly disciplined on the ice. Would it make sense to move Boyle? Can the Rangers replace his PK prowess?
While Boyle leads all Ranger forwards in PK ice time – 2:05/game – Dom Moore (with 1:56/game) has proven to be a strong penalty killer as well. Both Ryan Callahan and Carl Hagelin average well over a minute per game. Callahan, if not for the injuries he has sustained this year, would likely be averaging more. With Mats Zuccarello’s increasing relevance to the penalty kill this year, and Derek Stepan ability to play the PK (not to mention Derek Dorsett’s eventual return), there are plenty of capable players to fill the penalty killing role.
As the cliché goes: Your best penalty killer has to be your goaltender, and with Henrik Lundqvist’s return to form the Rangers could risk trading Boyle if it helps acquire an upgrade elsewhere. This is especially true if they don’t intend on bringing back the giant Ranger next season.
Penalty killers, size, and of course face-off ability are hotly sought after commodities come playoff time. It is probably in the Rangers interests to retain Boyle, but it all comes down to supply and demand. If Boyle is part of a package that brings back a solid offensive weapon or an additional right-handed defenseman, then the Rangers need to consider moving Boyle.