If veteran defenseman Dan Boyle hits the free-agent market on July 1, the Toronto Maple Leafs are one team he would consider signing with.
“The Toronto Maple Leafs are high on Dan Boyle’s list,” TSN’s Darren Dreger said during Wednesday’s edition of Insider Trading.
“He’s expected to alert Islanders GM Garth Snow at some point this week as to whether or not he intends to negotiate with the Islanders with the possibility of staying there after New York made the trade for his negotiating rights. I know that the Islanders have already made an offer but there is no negotiation. Boyle wants a two-year deal, and the money might be more than the Leafs are willing to pay, but they definitely have interest.”
Boyle, whose exclusive negotiating rights were traded from the San Jose Sharks to the Islanders last week, struggled last season with just 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists) in 75 games. It was his lowest scoring total in a non-lockout season since 2007-08. His defensive performance also declined, which is why Sharks head coach Todd McLellan started the 37-year-old in the offensive zone often. Boyle doesn’t have the elite puck-moving skills he did a few years ago, but his ability to make a good first pass out of the zone and create scoring chances on the power play remain strong.
In fairness, Boyle did suffer a concussion last year and returned to game action a bit early. If he’s healthy for the entire 2014-15 season, there’s no reason to believe he won’t be an effective player.
On most NHL teams, including the Leafs, Boyle would be a second-pairing D-man specializing in offensive situations. His leadership and Stanley Cup-winning experience would help all of Toronto’s defensemen, specifically captain Dion Phaneuf and youngsters such as Jake Gardiner and Morgan Rielly.
Boyle is coming off a six-year deal worth $6.66 million per season, and while he’s not expected to make over $6 million annually in his next contract, it would be surprising if he took a major discount given the weakness of the 2014 free-agent class. He’s one of the better D-men available, and just about every contending team needs additional depth on the blue line.