Stay or Go: Brian Boyle

Keep Boyle or try to trade him?
Keep Boyle or try to trade him?

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.

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  1. Boyle is under-rated amongst the fan base, in my view, and I believe he should stay. The guy does a little bit of everything and, while you could argue that he does not excel at any one aspect of the game, he contributes in numerous different ways and is a key cog to the club. If he is traded, what do we get in return that brings us closer to the Stanley Cup? I don’t see the value in trading him, and think he brings value to the team.

    1. I couldn’t agree more! Boyle stays. He scores, he defends, and he is quite mobile. The only other player we have with any size to him is Nash, who doesn’t check. Not Boyle’s fault he wasn’t used on the pk. How many penalty mins did he have? Not many. He’s a solid player who isn’t a liability. It would be idiotic to get rid of him. That being said, the Rangers aren’t known for making the most rational decisions…

      1. He’s 6’7″ amd plays like he’s 5’10”. He’s softer than a box of kittens and he is slow as s**t. If he was scoring 10-15 goals a year that would make up for it, but he doesnt and he’s been trending downward since he scored 21 two years ago, which was the worst thing that couldve happened for him. Give someone like JT Miller who’s fast and can chip in some offense and defense his spot. If Paul Gaustad can get traded for a 1st round pick, I’m sure we can get something similar for Boyle.

      2. Boyle scored 2 goals and 3 assists for 5 points in 48 games this season. He was third amongst forwards in shorthanded time on ice. He had 29 penalty minutes, third on the team behind Asham and Bickel who both drew multiple major penalties. Did you watch the Rangers this season?

        That said, I think he stays unless we can get a decent draft pick (second round maybe?) in return for him. Like Alex says, he’s slow and soft, but as a 4th line center and second unit PK guy he is useful. He’d be a much bigger asset at half his cap hit.

        1. Perspective time:

          Kings Top PKer: Trevor Lewis, cap hit $725K, 14 points this season.

          B’Hawks Top Pker: Marcus Kruger, cap hit $900K, 13 points this season.

          Pens Top Pker: Craig Adams, cap hit $675K, 9 points this season.

          Brian Boyle, cap hit $1.7M, 5 points this season.

          I don’t dislike Boyle. He’s a good player, but we can be more efficient here.

  2. Shouldn’t we be waiting to see who the next coach is? If it’s AV and a 1-2-2 then Boyle’s footspeed doesn’t matter. Also, if they buyout BR then the cap space doesn’t mater.

    I’m in the keep Boyle camp. Not many are better shutdown forwards.

    1. I am in Camp KeepBoyle

      Curious though, what returns would he fetch? What kind of player would you target if a deal was struck? I’d much rather keep Boyle who brings alot (faceoffs, pk, shutdown assignments) than trade him for a sporadic goal scorer who seems unmotivated at times (i.e. Wolski). I agree, we have too many repetitive role players but Boyle is the last bottom six guy I would want to get rid of. Although, he could probably get us the biggest return.

      All of the trade/ don’t trade is moot unless we have some perspective on who we would get in return.

      1. I’d probably try to package Boyle with an offensive Whale prospect for some blueline help. I think Winterpeg could stand to deal one of their d-men.

  3. Not only should Brian absolutely stay for all of the above reasons posted, but…ahem…how about FACEOFFS?!!

    Brian was the only one on this team who consistently put up good to great numbers i.e. <50% on draws. And especially in the playoffs. So that makes TWO playoffs in a row he has raised his game to the point of being an elite PLAYOFF performer.

    And you cannot simply scoff at the idea of the effect his loss would have on our every dwindling PK #'s. 2 years ago, we had Brian, Cally, Pruster and Feds as our top 4 PKers. Then we lose Feds and Pruster in the off-season with similar absurd arguments being stated how of course we'll be fine without those two. Gee, wasn't that a spot on prediction?! 🙁

    So now we have Cally, Step, Boyle and maybe Powe as our top 4 on the PK, and u want to move yet top 4 PK again this year?! The one who is 3rd only to Cally and Danny G in proficiency at blocking shots during the kill?! Whatever happened to learning from one's mistakes?! Brilliant! 🙁

    As for his 4th line status, Brian clearly showed a propensity to be a solid 3rd-line checking center in this league, albeit when paired with – yup, once again – Pruster and Feds. So you take those two 3rd-liners with whome he obviously clicked with away, combine it with the typical, thank-God-it's-over Torts line-juggling, throw in a shortened season, and it's no wonder Brian never had time to truly mesh with any old and/or newcomers. And remember, that line was together for 3+ years before 2/3rds of it was sent packing, so it's no wonder Brian's regular-season game suffered.

    So again, absolutely you KEEP Brian Boyle! If for no other reason above than simply b/c JT Miller?! is NOT the answer, my friends. Any unbeknownst adoration (2 goals in 18 games, both coming in the 1st one of those) thankfully went the way with the departed head coach. In fact, JT may wind up in Dallas with his fellow JT if that comes to pass. But anyway….

    1. Your JT Miller argument is invalid since Boyle had 2 goals in 38 games. At least Miller showed some skill and creativity with the puck, something this team is sorely lacking outside of Nash, and speed. He was drafted as a 2-way forward and thats what he is. And he’s still 20 with alot of time to develop

    2. Well stated, the only thing not mentioned in your analysis is that Boyle elevates his game in the play-offs, when it counts.

      Everything written, slow a foot, soft as jello, etc., while true, he does his thing on the PK, face-offs, and is a shut down guy. Keep him one more year, see what developes with the kids, and maybe move him to the fourth line, where his speed, or lack there of, won’t be near a factor as it would be on the 3rd line!

      Also how any goals did he score in the play-offs, vs say Richards?? That is when he does his scoring. Maybe they should also teach him how to box, a man that size should inflict hurt on people, he doesn’t, too bad.

      1. Most importanty, Boyle is one of those role type guys who you need to win a cup. When I picture the Rangers hoisting the cup, Boyle is one of the guys lifting it. He is a large part of our identity. While he is undoubtedly soft for his size, he plays smart, throws the body when he has to, wins faceoffs, and other teams rarely try to mess with him. He is also our top face-washer after the whistle in front of Hank, a title that should not be taken lightly. We all know that Boyle and Torts had a love-hate relationship, but when Boyle was playing well and getting some ice time, he proved that he has the potential to perform and contribute. This guy needs to stay and elevate his game to the next level, which I know he can do. I just hope the new coach can figure out a way to help him get there.

  4. Boyler should stay. The guy has had his struggles but I see him as part of the NYR core group and the guy has heart and he CARES. 4th line Center or wing , face-offs, PK all valuable. He played his ass off for Torts hopefully he will do the same for whomever the new coach is. And hopefully with a good summer workout regiment and a full camp he has his most effective season as a Ranger, he is certainly capable.

  5. I also like Boyle on the wing on the 4th line We need to try and keep Stepan off the PK as much as possible .Boyle proved he can play on the PP unit as well in the playoffs . Maybe the new Coach will try McD and Moore as point men a little more next year . All in all the new Coach will have a differant veiw of everything when training camp starts , as far as line compo’s go and D pairings . First and second PP units might be differant as well. We can speculate as much as we want until a new Coach is named before we know what said Coach is thinking

  6. Boyle is a keeper. I agree, he is making a little too much money esp with the cap going down next year. Buying out Richards makes this less of an issue. Also, I am in the camp that believes the cap will increase after next year. Boyle has been among our top forwards in the playoffs the past couple of years. He is our best faceoff guy, and I think next to Cally the best on the PK. A 3rd line wing or 4th line center, use him on PK and PP. We need his size.

  7. Boyle has his moments and I believe he is useful as a fourth line winger, not centre. He could take the spots occupied by Pyatt or Asham.

    1. After the way Pyatt and Asham stepped up in the post season there shouldn’t be any talk of sacrificing either of them.

  8. Boyle, as stated, and the whole 3rd line are just to slow. When I watch them, they seem to be playing in slow motion. And I disagree with “suit”, Boyle is too soft. He had to take boxing lessions because he didn’t know how to fight. He does tackle his advisary well though.
    They should try to move him during this offseason, his 1.7 cap hit is just too much. Also, the team needs space for younger players to find holes and get ice time

  9. I like Boyle as a team guy. He seems to be well liked and respected in the lockeroom; never heard of any problems regarding him. That said, he is way too inconsistent for the salary he makes. A guy his size should not be out muscled as much as he is. He has no speed at all, and lets face it, any goals he scores are bonuses. Having said that though, if used correctly with a lower standard of expectations in effect, I believe he could be attractive to another team in a trade. There aren’t to many desirable trading options on this team that they could afford to lose. If you can package Boyle with maybe a prospect or 2 from Hartford( Thomas, Borque etc.), then maybe we can get back some sort of offensive help on the blue line. We won’t be getting back an All-Star, but someone who is serviceable. I think that is the true value of Brian Boyle, right now.

  10. Boyle’s days are numbered purely out of the business stance. He’s overpriced and expendable. He’s a fan favorite, I like him, he plays well when he needs to, and he’s a big part of the team ID. But he’s gone after next year. Too many young guys with better skills sets and cheaper contracts.

  11. I think we have enough up and coming players at Hartford to take his spot. Lindberg, Miller, Yogans come to mind and all are better faceoff guys than Boyle. They will all be cheaper also, and besides we can probably get a possible 2nd round pick for him. With the cap coming down consider Boyle and Pyatt expendable. All 3 players I mentioned have size Lindberg 6’3″, Miller 6’2″ & Yogans 6’3″ and they all play the body really well.

    1. I understand the frustration with the production of guys like Boyle, Pyatt, and Powe last season…they did not give us the bottom 6 scoring that a team needs to succeed. However, chemistry is important for the bottom 6 just as it is for the top 6. The bottom 6 guys are more expendable, but look at what happened to us last season. We lost basically all of our depth guys with Dubi, Artie, Feds, Mitchell, and Prust all leaving. While it may seem like the solution this year is to get rid of guys like Boyle, Pyatt, Powe, or Asham, I just worry that we will be repeating our mistake from last season and abandoning our depth players. The young guys in the AHL have a lot more promise than these guys, but you don’t want to have 3rd and 4th lines chalk full of rookies because they will not be ready for the physical play and will lose their confidence or get injured. I say hold on to the depth guys for this offseason, and if they continue to underperform, then trade them before the deadline and take it from there. I personally would like to see the season start with some familiar faces who are looking for redemption after a disappointing season.

      1. I had as many points as Powe had last year. Trade him for a 5th rounder please. Of all the guys mentioned, only letting go of Prust was a bad move, as he has proven to be worth 2.5 per (now, that is). I loved Dubi, but a 3rd line center making 4.2 is insane. The other guys were not essential by any stretch….but last offseason Sather should have done a lot better than the guys he signed to replace the depleted depth. Pyatt, Halpern, trading Rupper for Powe – terrible signings and soft, soft, soft. Asham would have been a good pickup, but Torts gave him 5 mins a night.

        1. I’m not necessarily saying it was a bad move to let any one of those guys go – Prust was asking for too much, Mitchell and Feds were expendable, and Arts and Dubi went for Nash – my point is that we got rid of all of our depth at once. When you get rid of 4 or 5 of your bottom 6, the team completely changes, and in the Rangers case, it was the difference between 1st in the East and fighting for a playoff spot. I am still in disbelief that Powe finished with 0 points, because I actually liked the way he played. I am all for getting rid of one (maybe 2) of these guys to make room for some youngsters, but I think the Rangers chemistry and confidence will come together much faster if we keep guys like Boyle around. Not sure what the contracts for Powe/Pyatt look like, but I’d like to see one of them gone.

          1. I think they both have another year, total of $2.5 mil. Tell me you wouldn’t rather have Prust for 2.5 than those 2 guys put together. Agree about Boyle. And would like at least 2 youngsters (Kreider and JT), maybe also Lindberg, making the team out of camp.

  12. Boyle 2nd amongst forwards in hits,has a high faceoff % takes most of the defensive zone starts. However,

    People like Powe, Gilroy,aren’t productive.
    Clowe,Sauer have injury issues.
    Boyle, Pyatt, Asham, Hamrilik make too much $
    Dorsett takes too many PM and can’t fight.

    Staal has been out much of the last 2 years and makes too much $ considering his production at 26.
    MDZ at 22 has outproduced Staal already in almost every career category. With focus, depthe perceptions issues, and based on Staal’s season ending exit interview Staal could go elsewhere as well

    1. Staal is making the right amount, but yes, has 2 more years under contract before he joins his brothers in CAR. I’d trade him now because of that, but only for immediate help. If not, MDZ is the 2nd biggest chip we have because he’s so young. Dorsett btw can fight, he just is too willing to go with guys that outweigh him by 50 lbs like Thornton. Guys in his own weight class won’t fight him or get destroyed like Gregory Campbell did.

  13. I could see a team without Boyle that works well, but I’m not eager to get rid of him. I remember the mantra of Ranger management before the 1994 Cup. “We don’t want a team of goons and dancers; we want all around players”. Boyle is versatile – kills penalties, good at faceoffs, good defensive play, scores some, stands in front of the net on power plays (a vital role which only he and Callahan seem willing to play).

  14. Boyle is a keeper.

    He would make a great wing.

    While foot speed is important. So is the system you employ.

    This roster is not made for the 2-1-2

    Any use of that going forward with this roster will yield little results, unless everyone isoforing on all cylinders.

    Does he need to play with more snarl? Yes.

    I think a good coach will be able to find a role for him.

    I prefer the weak side lock in the forecheck and a 1-4 in the neutral zone. Like the teams in the finals.

  15. I’m not sure we should want rookies like Miller or Lindberg to take Boyle’s role. The last few seasons Boyle has played some of the toughest minutes on the team (High defensive zone starts and high quality of competition). I would rather our rookies get some more favorable minutes as they develop and let guys like Boyle deal with the grunt work.

    1. A new coach may not use a third line in that way though. Some coaches match line for line. So our 1st line vs. their first line, 2nd vs. 2nd, etc.

        1. Alain played 5 guys over 20 mins in the playoffs and 5 guys under 10 mins. Elder played more mins than Girardi and McD. You’re lazy bro.

  16. Boyle’s foot speed is NOT a problem when he centers Powe and Asham… or when he is back checking on the PK (Torts prefered smaller guys on the PK forecheck and wanted Boyle to stay back and “use his size”. When Pyatt is on the ice, Boyle has to slow down to “slug speed” to keep the line in balance. Most of the third and fourth line off-sides are committed by Boyle and I believe it’s because he is faster than he is able to show with crappy line mates.

  17. The Rangers will not win in the playoffs if Boyle has to center the third line. They will be overmatched against all the better teams in the league since they lack depth at C. He stays if they get more C depth that moves him down to the fourth line and keeps him there. Otherwise, they need to deal him.

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