Could the Edmonton Oilers be looking to improve their already stellar lineup by adding Tampa Bay Lightning forward Brian Boyle before the NHL Trade Deadline?
The Tampa Bay Lightning may have spent a majority of their season shrouded in doom and gloom, but things have definitely made a change for the better over the course of the last couple of games. The Bolts are currently at the halfway point in a four-game road trip, having already picked up three of four points.
There are many things that could be attributed to the Lightning’s recent success, but there are some aspects which stand out much more than others. One of the glaring examples is the team’s chemistry. Over the course of the last few games, the team has learned to work together instead of against one another.
One player who has been incredibly vocal about the team’s shortcomings this season has been Lightning forward Brian Boyle. Brian Boyle was quoted by Tampa Bay Times Beat Writer Joe Smith back on February 2nd, right after the team’s 5-2 loss to the Ottawa Senators, as “infuriating” being the state of mind in the locker room. Boyle went on to say the “team was too good to be in this spot.”
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The sad fact of the matter is he was absolutely 100 percent right. The Tampa Bay Lightning is stacked with some of the most talented players in the NHL right now. The deep, dark hole the Lightning has dug for themselves is almost inexplicable for fans who have watched this team grow over the last few seasons.
Now…let’s talk about Brian Boyle for a second. Why is Boyle able to be this critical of his team and not catch all sorts of flak from his teammates and the team’s fans? Besides the fact he’s right, it’s the simple fact Boyle is one of the most versatile members on the team.
Boyle can play all three forward positions. In addition to this, he can even play defense when the situation calls for it. Unfortunately, with the amount of injuries the team has been forced to deal with over the last couple of seasons, the occasion has arisen more than once.
As the NHL Trade Deadline quickly approaches, there are many a rumor making their way around the National Hockey League. Unfortunately, one of those rumors has hit rather close to home. It seems as team from the great, white, north is showing some interest in the one and only Brian Boyle.
According to Nick Kypreos from SportsNet’s Hockey Night in Canada, the Edmonton Oilers are looking to add to their already dangerous offense with a solid depth player, namely Lightning forward Brian Boyle. It seems the one sticking point preventing a deal from being made is the price tag on Boyle.
“I’m told right now that the feeling was the price was too high from Stevie Yzerman, maybe as much as a first-round pick,” said Kypreos. “Saying that, the prices may drop.”
Apparently, the interest is a little deeper than meets the eye. According to Hockey Night in Canada’s Elliotte Friedman, Edmonton Oilers President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Peter Chiarelli was seen at the Xcel Energy Center on Friday night as the Tampa Bay Lightning took on the Minnesota Wild.
Before the group moved on to their next topic, Elliotte Friedman added Chiarelli was more than likely in attendance to take a closer look at Brian Boyle. If this is indeed the case, he definitely got a good show. Despite falling 2-1 in the shootout, the Lightning played a solid, all-around game.
At this point, there is no world in which Tampa Bay Lightning fans want to see Brian Boyle make his way to a new team. Unfortunately, there are quite a few things playing against the Lightning at the moment. The most gleaming of these is the current cap situation.
When the 2016-17 season comes to a close, Brian Boyle will become an Unrestricted Free Agent. In other words, the entire National Hockey League will serve as Boyle’s all-you-can-eat buffet. The 32-year-old Hingham native would be free to entertain any offer he so chooses with no recourse for the Bolts.
That is…unless the Tampa Bay Lightning can make Boyle an offer he cannot refuse. Unfortunately, this is one of those things that are much easier said than done. There are quite a few players with contracts ending at the conclusion of the season, some of which who will be looking for a modest bump in salary.
Here’s a look at how things are going to look like at the end of the season.
|Player Name||Position||Status||Current Salary|
|Brian Boyle||Forward||Unrestricted Free Agent||$2,000,000/season|
|Ben Bishop||Goaltender||Unrestricted Free Agent||$5,950,000/season|
|Luke Witkowski||Defenseman||Unrestricted Free Agent||$575,000/season|
|Matt Taormina||Defenseman||Unrestricted Free Agent||$575,000/season|
|Tyler Johnson||Forward||Restricted Free Agent||$4,000,000/season|
|Ondrej Palat||Forward||Restricted Free Agent||$4,000,000/season|
|Jonathan Drouin||Forward||Restricted Free Agent||$832,500/season|
|Slater Koekkoek||Defenseman||Restricted Free Agent||$832,500/season|
|Andrej Sustr||Defenseman||Restricted Free Agent||$1,600,000/season|
|Jake Dotchin||Defenseman||Restricted Free Agent||$615,000/season|
|Joel Vermin||Forward||Restricted Free Agent||$575,000/season|
|Gabriel Dumont||Forward||Restricted Free Agent||$575,000/season|
|Michael Bournival||Forward||Restricted Free Agent||$575,000/season|
|Kristers Gudlevskis||Goaltender||Restricted Free Agent||$575,000/season|
|Cory Conacher||Forward||Restricted Free Agent||$575,000/season|
Now, this is not a comprehensive list. There are quite a few more players whose names are not listed above, but are set to become some manner of Free Agent at the end of the season. This serves as an overview of some of the more prominent players entering Free Agent status.
Judging by the names listed above, you can easily see there are going to be some tough decisions on the horizon for Tampa Bay Lightning Vice President and General Manager Steve Yzerman. Right now, the Tampa Bay Lightning has an estimated $8,789,555 in cap space. This may seem like a lot, but give the caliber of players looking for renewals, that money will disappear expediently.
As we mentioned before, there is really no world in which Tampa Bay Lightning fans want to see Boyle head to a new team next season. Boyle is a solid guy both on and off the ice, and with his versatility; he is a strong asset to the Bolts lineup.
Now, taking away all the bias of being a Tampa Bay Lightning fan, one could certainly see why Edmonton would want to add someone like Brian Boyle to their roster. Right now, a bulk of the load has been carried by 20-year-old Oilers forward Connor McDavid.
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In the 56 games McDavid has played with the Oilers this season, he has brought home 18 goals and a whopping 43 assists for a total of 61 points to accompany his plus-16 rating. McDavid is currently tied with Washington Capitals forward Niklas Backstrom for first place in the league in assists and first place in the league in overall points.
Adding someone like Boyle to an already stacked roster of a team who is all but assured a spot in the postseason right now would be a solid move for the team. Hopefully, Boyle will be able to reach a deal with the team and this will become nothing more than a rumor.
Only time will tell how this story will play out; however, time is fleeting. With only 17 days and counting left until the big day, Lightning fans will have their answer sooner rather than later.
From our seats up here in the cheap seats, we choose to have faith things will work out for the best. While we have occasionally questioned some of Yzerman’s decisions in the past, at the end of the day, they have turned out to benefit the Tampa Bay Lightning in the long-term.
In other words, if there is a deal to be made between Brian Boyle and the Tampa Bay Lightning, Steve Yzerman will definitely be the man to get the job done. Needless to say, we see more than a few sleepless nights over the next few weeks for Steve Yzerman.