One of the most heated debate topics among Rangers fans is the enigma that is Brian Boyle. If you were to ask 20 Rangers fans how they felt about Boyle, 10 would tell you he’s a valuable asset to the team who provides a lot of grit and heart, and 10 would tell you that he is an abomination of a player with dicks for fingers who plays like he’s Zuccarello’s size (one of the nicer things I’ve heard). This is the last year on Boyle’s $5.1 Million contract, and so the question must be asked: is this Brian Boyle’s last year as a Ranger?
The past two seasons have been wildly inconsistent ones for Brian Boyle. Last year (albeit in a shortened season), he only registered 5 points. That was a drastic drop from the 26 points in the 11-12 season and his career-high 35 points in 10-11. This season he has scored 18 points in 80 games, which isn’t terrible, but is good for the lowest point total of all forwards who have played 50 or more games. The argument I hear most when people trash talk Boyle is that he doesn’t play like his size. He isn’t a particularly tough player for someone who is 6 foot 7, then again if there is a Rangers fan argument I have heard way too many times it would definitely be the “we aren’t tough enough” one. Boyle drops the gloves when he has to, but most of the time he does it he ends up getting his ass kicked (Lookin at you, Zdeno Chara). There are games where Boyle goes out there, is hard on the boards, and works hard to be an effective 4th liner and can earn up to almost 14 minutes a night. Then there are games when he will go out, lose the puck, look lost, and play about 8 minutes of ice time. To sum up Boyle’s play this season, I would call it inconsistent at best.
What is interesting about Brian Boyle is how significantly his performance has dropped since the departure of current Canadiens left wing and Brian Boyle BFF Brandon Prust. While playing with Prust (usually on the same line), Boyle scored 67 points in 235 games, which isn’t too shabby for a 3rd liner/4th liner. When Prust leaves after the 11-12 season however, Boyle’s stats are nowhere near as nice. In 118 games since Brandon Prust left for Montreal, Brian Boyle has 23 points.
That all being said, there are a lot of positives Boyle brings to the team. When he plays well, he can be a productive 4th liner who is hard on the boards, can give the team some needed energy, and even chip in a goal every now and then. He blocks shots, he’s gritty, and he plays with the heart that made him a fan favorite in years past. Boyle is also a playoff performer. He gets it done in those big close games. In the past two seasons, Boyle has 11 playoff points in 28 games. He single-handedly made Ottawa’s life hell in our series against them in 2012. In my opinion however, Brian Boyle’s biggest strong suit, and the reason he still plays as much as he does on this team, is because he is a great penalty killer. He is on the ice for 43% of the Rangers’penalty kills. During that time on the PK, the Rangers haven’t had a power play goal scored on them. This is due to his good play along the boards, his willingness to block shots, and his proficiency in face-offs. He’s more than willing to take a puck to the jaw if it means keeping a puck out of the net.
So does Boyle stay or does he go?
Although he has been an old favorite of mine and I believe he’s got a lot of good qualities that make him valuable to this team, I just don’t think Boyle is worth keeping at this point. He’s not the kind of player that’s going to cost you big money, but in an offseason like the one coming up where we need all the money we can spend, and when we have three good 4th liners in Moore, Dorsett, and Carcillo, I don’t see re-signing Brian Boyle as being a big priority. While I think it’s very possible that he signs a deal where he makes the bare-minimum knowing he isn’t a hot commodity around the league, I just don’t see Sather considering Boyle worth the time to re-sign.
Boyle doesn’t re-sign, leaves for free agency.