The news all over social media recently is that the New York Islanders have just traded a conditional fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft to the San Jose Sharks for Dan Boyle. The Isles have his rights and the ability to re-sign him. If Boyle cannot agree to terms with the Islanders, he will hit the free agent market.
Many of you in Bolt Nation remember Dan Boyle from the 2004 Stanley Cup Champions. Boyle was our top blue liner and was an integral part of the Lightning organization for seven years from 2001 until he was traded to San Jose during the 2008-09 season.
It seems that many Lightning fans were hoping that Boyle would make his way back to Tampa once word leaked a few weeks ago by San Jose GM Doug Wilson that the Sharks were not going to re-sign Boyle who will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1st. I was not one of those fans.
Now, don’t get me wrong, Boyle was a great player for the Bolts during his time here. Aside from Vincent Lecavalier who arrived in Tampa a few days before I did, Boyle’s was the only Lightning sweater I owned back in the day. He was one of the best defensemen in the entire NHL in bringing the puck up out of the defensive zone. The sad reality is that Boyle’s best days are behind him.
He can still play in the league but one glaring deficiency among the Lightning D-men that Montreal exposed in the playoff sweep this year was their lack of speed. So why bring in a defenseman who has clearly lost a step?
There is no question that Boyle is a leader in the locker room and with so many youngsters on the Lightning roster, it could make sense to bring in someone who has that veteran leadership. It just makes more sense to find a player who shores up a weakness, not make the weakness more glaring.
I wish Dan Boyle nothing but success with the Isles and hope he has a few good seasons with them. He’ll be 38 when the upcoming season begins and I think we need to get faster with our defense. Just like that Boyle jersey I bought over 10 years ago that doesn’t quite fit, neither will Boyle in the 2014-15 edition of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Look at the teams that went to the conference finals this year. Montreal, New York Rangers, LA Kings and the Chicago Blackhawks. Now look at their top four D-men: you have names like Duncan Keith, Drew Doughty, P.K. Subban and Ryan McDonagh among others. These guys have speed to burn. The Lightning need to acquire speed on the blue line and simply put, Dan Boyle doesn’t fit that bill.
The Bolts finally have a bonafide #1 PRIME TIME goalie in Ben Bishop, why put a defenseman in front of him who is so clearly past his prime? I understand why some fans will be disappointed with my take here, but I say think with your heads, not your hearts. I would love Dan Boyle…… circa 2002-2005. Unfortunately, that guy was not available.