As confirmed by Bob McKenzie on Twitter, the New Jersey Devils signed forward Brian Boyle to a two-year contract at $2.55 million per year. That’s a contract totaling $5.1 million.
Who is Brian Boyle & What Does He Do?
Per Elite Prospects, Boyle is a 32-year old left handed center who can also play left wing. He’s a big man at 6’6” and 245 pounds. Like Dainius Zubrus before him, he’ll be hard to miss on the ice.
He’s never been a particularly productive player with 124 points in 624 games. Per his even strength stats at Hockey Analysis, he’s good for chipping in some even strength scoring but nothing that will make anyone think he should be on a scoring line. However, Boyle’s reputation is that he has been a solid hand in a team’s bottom six forwards and penalty killing. Per NHL.com, Boyle has averaged at least a minute of shorthanded ice time per game since becoming a regular in 2009-10. He has also averaged around 10-11 minutes of even strength ice time, which is consistent for a third or fourth line center. Boyle is also somewhat good at the dot as he’s had a faceoff winning percentage of at least 50% in his last six seasons. While that may not mean much over a season, it is a useful trait for special teams. He even brings some leadership experience to go with his NHL experience as he wore an ‘A’ for Tampa Bay for the last three seasons prior to his trade to Toronto last season.
Boyle splits to NJD. pic.twitter.com/xYAcaV1FiJ— Sean Tierney (@ChartingHockey) July 1, 2017
As Sean Tierney tweeted out, Boyle does provide positive value based on what he has done. His expected goals percentage and goals for percentage in 5-on-5 play have been both on the right side of 50%. I do agree with his “hot take” in that the big man is a solid addition to a lower line and expectations should be set there.
A Quick Reaction
I like this signing for a number of reasons. This strengthens a part of the lineup that was a rotating menagerie of forwards last season. Boyle may not be a big-minute player and he certainly will not add a whole lot of offense. But he can step in right away on the PK and he can make a third or fourth line more competent. Those are not massive roles but with the real possibility of Jacob Josefson moving on and few of that group of forwards who never really grasped the “brass ring” in last season (e.g. Sergey Kalinin, Vernon Fiddler, etc.), it was a hole to be filled. Not the most important one, but one that could be filled today and it appears that it was. Further, I’d prefer Boyle filling in the fourth or even third line center spot than limiting a younger player like Pavel Zacha, Michael McLeod, or Nico Hischier to such a role. I want those players to receive more advantageous situations and minutes; Boyle can soak up more defensive zone starts and tougher situations in a pinch.
Does $2.55 million per year seem like a lot for filling this role? Yeah, but it’s defensible. If Boyle can fill it well for the next two years, then it would be worth it than trying to plug and play more veteran or cheaper options with less than solid results. Which is what the Devils have been trying to do in past seasons. With the amount of space the Devils have in their salary cap, they can more than afford to get someone good for the position in their lineup. No, Boyle alone will not likely make the team significantly better, but his addition looks like a step forward from last season in my view.
The Devils’ first move of the day was to sign Brian Boyle to a $5.1 million contract for two seasons. I like it, but I want to know what you think. Please leave your reaction either through the poll (polls close at 10 PM) or in the comments (will be open for longer). Thank you for reading.
The Devils signed Brian Boyle to a 2 year, $5.1 million contract. What do you think of it?
This poll is closed
I love it!
I like the deal.
I don’t know / I’m in the middle.
I don’t like the deal.
I hate it!