As I’ve had to step away for a few days, media outlets released that The New York Islanders acquired former San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle for a conditional pick in 2015. After trading for and eventually signing goalie Jaroslav Halak, the Islanders are rolling the dice once again, trying to get players under contract before they enter unrestricted free agency. My first reaction was not of over joyed enthusiasm. I had made clear before that, as a fan, I did not want another “AARP player” on this team, save for Nabokov as a backup. So I went out and read a few articles/tweets that would help try to sway me away from my original feeling.
From Peter McEntee of Islanders Insight:
Regardless, it’s hard not to love the deal as an Islanders fan. You’re giving up a lower pick for a proven, veteran NHL defenseman. Boyle, when healthy, has proven his worth, as he’s had 6 seasons of at least 50 points, as a defenseman. He’s been one of the most impactful players on a franchise that has thrived in the NHL for the last decade. That in itself should hold high value.
This is one of the bigger moves that the Islanders have made this offseason, and it has the potential, assuming a couple of things go right, to be a very high-rewarding transaction. Signing Boyle isn’t going to be the easiest thing to do, but there is a plausible chance, which certainly is a reason to be excited.
My take: I agree with Peter about this being a low risk, high reward as the Isles will only be sacrificing a pick, but Boyle has been playing with the San Jose Sharks, a team, as he has stated, has thrived for the last decade. He’s coming to an Islanders team that , only recently, has shown to barely make it to the playoffs in a 48 game season. While he may improve the team’s powerplay, signing Halak may already improved the goals allowed number as a team since the number one priority need was goaltending. At his age, Boyle should not be counted on as a 22-25 minute player, but it’s his age that doesn’t concern me, it’s this next topic.
From Kevin Schultz of Islanders Point Blank
The catch with Boyle is of course his age — you never know if guys will keep up production and when (not if) they’ll all of a sudden fall of a cliff — and the other issue is concussions. Like Lubomir Visnovsky, Boyle missed a significant part of last season due to concussion issues.
My take: Throw in Travis Hamonic and you have 3 out of 4 top defenseman who, at any time, if they get hit the wrong way will miss significant time recovering. Like Kevin said, this signing will come at some risk, but to Boyle’s defense, he did play in 75 games last year. Will moving to the Eastern Conference, a conference known more for it’s grinding and hitting rather than speed be more of a hinder to Boyle and the Islanders? Again, I need more convincing.
From Brian Compton
No guarantee Boyle signs, but would be a nice stop gap until Pulock is ready. Can’t see him costing the moon, either.
My take: Ahhh now that has a little more substance. I think I’ve made a point before to say that Griffin Reinhart will make this Islanders team out of camp, but he’s not a power play defenseman. Ville Pokka may need some time in Bridgeport to get used to the speed and learn the North American game, which leaves the Islanders with their only strongest, potential near-future power play quarterback in Pulock and from what I can gather, may need another year or two before making a bigger contribution to the Isles. Signing a younger free agent, who would want a four-five year deal, hinders Pulock’s chances.
From B.D. Gallof:
Why Boyle? Solid defensively, can put up 35+ Pts. Still mobile & quick, despite natural age decline. Can mentor young inexperienced D
My take: When I read that last part, I began to be more enticed with this move. With the amount of good young talent coming up, his knowledge and experience would be phenomenal. He’s a Stanley Cup winner, an All-Star, he has a winning pedigree. He would be the Doug Weight veteran for Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock. As Compton stated before, money I don’t think would be an issue. So what is?
When it comes to older players like Dan Boyle, you want to play for as long as you can and when you’ve won as much as he has, yes you want to continue to play for a Cup contender, but you also really want job security. The Islanders can provide that. I’ve warmed up to the thought of signing Boyle and I think if the Islanders were to sign him, it may take at LEAST a 2 year deal. If you’re brining him in to make an impact on the team but really emphasizing on mentoring the younger players, a third year would be enough. A third year does not mean he’s still on the top pairing lines or a top 4 defenseman, he just simply needs to play his game and let the rest of the maturing defenseman like Reinhart and Pulock and de Haan take control of the defense and let them and the rest of the team take him to the Stanley Cup Finals, a place where he knows very well and he’ll continue to be that guiding force.