With impressive organisational depth at his position the new contract Brian Boyle received from the Rangers concerned me. Two things before I discuss this ‘issue’ though; first of all I love Boyle as a player and the way he turned his NHL career around last season and secondly l I think Glen Sather has had another excellent offseason for the Rangers. However, I’m a little uncomfortable with the Boyle contract.
The Rangers likely have Brad Richards in place as first line center for a very long time. Derek Stepan, Artem Anisimov and Brandon Dubinsky are all young, promising natural centers firmly part of the Rangers core. The club have Ryan Bourque, Andrew Yogan and Oscar Lindberg (don’t forget that guy) all as prospects-in-waiting while they also just drafted two centers in Steve Fogarty and Michael St. Croix (although I’ll grant you that they are highly unlikely to be pro’s during the life of Boyle’s new contract). That’s not even naming all the centers within the organisation but you get the point.
The Rangers did not need to reward Brian Boyle has handsomely as they did. He deserved a raise following his excellent year but what do you expect from Boyle next season? Given the depth on the roster, offensively he’s probably not going to go any higher (I hope I’m wrong). Defensively he has proved he is a physical presence that will hit, block shots and is an effective penalty killer but do you a pay a bottom 6 forward 1.7m a year for 3 years when the organisation is blessed with depth and developing prospects?
Boyle got too much dollar for too long. Given that dollars need to be carefully spent in the cap era and with a potential lockout (and more specifically) reduced cap ceiling looming, Boyle simply got too much. There’s a legitimate chance that in 2 years (perhaps even sooner) he may not even be assured a roster spot. I may be wrong but I think this is Sather’s first mistake – of sorts – of the off season. Many Rangers fans will disagree with me on this, but as I said on twitter (for those of you that follow me) one 20 goal season should not result in the contract it got especially when you consider how much Boyle faded offensively in the last third of the season.
With wingers Chris Kreider, Christian Thomas, Carl Hagelin and Mats Zuccarello (to name just a few) all likely on the Rangers roster sooner rather than later the Rangers may be forced to get creative and move several centers around the roster, perhaps on lines lower than ideally intended (obviously, depth is a good thing). If the Rangers intend on sticking with Richards, Dubinsky, Stepan and Anisimov for the foreseeable future Boyle becomes at best, an expensive 4th liner. Good player, awkward contract. That said, let’s finish this post on a positive note: If a somewhat generous contract to a non essential player is the biggest issue of the Rangers off season we’d all be pretty happy wouldn’t we?