Brian Boyle has been loved pretty much everywhere he has gone in his NHL career and that will not change in New Jersey. The Devils have signed the giant center to a two-year pact worth $2.5 million per season.
Now, there’s a bit of curiousness to this signing, in that Boyle is on the wrong side of 30 and the Devils are in the midst of a rebuild. He is still a very effective bottom-six player (most recently used as a fourth-liner in Toronto) and penalty-killer thanks to his reach and his smarts. Boyle is also an ace faceoff man.
But what’s the play for New Jersey here? Boyle will not make them a playoff team, especially in the tough Metropolitan Division. What he will do is bring a great influence to the dressing room and perhaps that’s the impetus here. With New Jersey landing Nico Hischier with the top pick overall at the 2017 draft and other youngsters such as Pavel Zacha, John Quenneville and Miles Wood trying to make their NHL marks, the Devils could use another sage veteran voice. Boyle is also great with the media, which will help since Mike Cammalleri is gone now.
Obviously these are details and not drivers. Can Boyle help one of the worst offenses in the NHL improve? No. Can he help shut down top lines? Maybe a little, but he’s not a fast guy.
Boyle played five seasons with the New York Rangers and now he returns to a familiar area, just across the water in Newark. Two years gives him a bit of security, but I wouldn’t be surprised if he is dealt at the trade deadline to a contender; he is still chasing his first Stanley Cup and the Devils won’t sniff it while he is under contract. The extra year on the contract would increase the return New Jersey could get for his services.
It’s a strange signing for New Jersey skill-wise, but culture-wise it’s a winner.
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