If your team needs a late Black Friday deal, then give Brian Boyle a call.
We are now over seven weeks removed from the opening of NHL Free Agency and Brian Boyle, along with a swathe of other talented players, still remain out of work.
In truth, it was to be expected due to the devastating impact that the COVID-19 Pandemic has had, with the sporting landscape not escaping the mass destruction.
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With the salary cap remaining flat at $81.5 million for at least the next couple of seasons, most franchises now have to allocate their funds more wisely and more diligently than ever before.
As a result, the Free Agency market is still awash with players that could perform key roles for certain teams, and Brian Boyle fits into that category nicely.
Currently an Unrestricted Free Agency following a cup of coffee in Florida with the Panthers, Boyle still has a lot to offer a team for a number of reasons, some of which we will try to explore here.
Grit & Toughness
Experience is an invaluable commodity in the National Hockey League and Brian Boyle brings a wealth of just that to the table.
With 805 career NHL regular season games under his belt, with 231 points (130 G, 101 A) in those contests, Boyle is a tried and tested established performer at the highest level, and he would be an ideal fit for a young dressing room.
He’s also battle-proven at the most important time of the year having amassed 118 career Stanley Cup Playoff games, putting up 16 goals and 15 assists for 31 points while averaging 14:44 ATOI.
Boyle is pretty durable and has averaged 13:04 of ice time throughout his career, making him a reliable bottom-six presence.
And that’s what you have to keep in mind here. While Boyle isn’t going to come in and contribute 30 or 40 points to a team, he brings other important intangibles to the table.
We’ve already mentioned the experience which is a crucial factor, but Boyle is also somewhat of a faceoff specialist having averaged a win percentage of 50.3 percent, including 52.4 percent for the Florida Panthers in 2019-20.
He’s also a useful weapon to have on the penalty kill with his skills in the faceoff circle, coupled with his size and reach.
Speaking of size, that’s arguably Boyle’s biggest asset at this stage of his career with the 6-foot-6 and 245 pounds veteran a big body that can perform a key and certain role for his team.
With 65 hits in 39 games in 2019-20 and 1,688 total career hits, Boyle can certainly use his hulking size to his advantage and he can hit like an absolute train, not only getting under the skin of his opponent but also giving his team a jolt of energy.
There’s also the fighting aspect which is still a big part of the game, no matter what anybody says, and Boyle has the size and the reach to be able to mix it up with the best of them in the NHL.
A high-character player who plays a fearless 200-foot game and is impactful at both ends of the ice, Boyle would be an ideal fit for a young team in the ilk of the New York Rangers or the Ottawa Senators, who both have a plethora of young prospects and who both perhaps lack toughness.
Boyle could also slot into the right contending team that need a fourth-line center and also a glue guy in the locker room.
After all, if you are competing for a championship than who better to have in the trenches alongside you than Brian Boyle, who is a real battler and a grinder.
Plus, with 15 points (six goals, nine assists) for the Panthers in 2019-20, Boyle can chip in with secondary scoring and that may only increase if he ends up on a slightly better team or with more talented linemates.
Boyle would also come cheap and would probably accept a one-year deal with a less than $1.5 million cap hit, which would certainly help teams who are in somewhat of a cap crunch.
Of course, at 35-years-old Boyle isn’t getting any younger but, on a short-term deal with a low cap hit, teams would be taking on a low risk and high reward type of situation with not a lot to lose from it.
Overall, there’s plenty to like about Brian Boyle and any team willing to pick up the phone would be getting a tried and tested fourth-line center in the NHL who is also a high-character player, a locker room glue guy, a leader and someone who can man the PK, chip in with offense, be responsible in his own zone and bring a bucketload of toughness and experience to the table.
If there’s an organization out there that needs any of those boxes ticking and are on the hunt for a Black Friday Weekend deal, then they would be wise to reach out to Brian Boyle and thrash out a deal before Training Camp.