Between now and the end of June, I’m going to be profiling potential free agent and trade targets for the Rangers this summer. I obviously can’t profile every single possibility, but I will try to do plenty, with an emphasis on those I would prefer.
The Sharks announced a month ago yesterday that they wouldn’t be bringing back Dan Boyle after a successful six-year marriage between the two. On the fifth of this month, the Sharks traded the negotiating rights to Boyle, a potential UFA on July 1st, to the Islanders. So it’s worth noting that Boyle’s rights are currently owned by a team motivated to get him under contract.
Boyle reportedly wants a two-year deal, but I would be interested in Boyle strictly on a one-year contract with performance bonuses. Performance bonuses could potentially allow the Rangers to exceed the 2014-15 cap, which is totally being a buzzkill right now. Any amount they exceed the 2014-15 cap would have to effectively be carried on the cap the following season, when the cap should be considerably higher.
The Rangers haven’t used bonuses for 35 and over players since they re-signed Brendan Shanahan in 2007. Shanahan’s contract had a base of $2.5 million and bonuses of $2.8 million, some of which were counted against the following season’s cap. It is my hope that Boyle would consider an incentive-heavy contract with the Rangers, as they give him a chance to contend for the Stanley Cup and play with long-time teammate Martin St. Louis.
As a defenseman who can bring some offense and a right-handed shot, Boyle fits in two of the three priorities I outlined for the off-season.
This past season, the Sharks’ powerplay dropped from 7th in the league at 20.1% to 20th in the league at 17.2%. Dan Boyle appears to be the fall guy for that. After all, the Sharks scored goals at a higher rate with Boyle off the ice rather than on it this season in 5 on 4 situations.
But with Boyle on the ice, the Sharks still produced shots on goal at a high rate, higher than that of the previous two years and much higher than with Boyle not on the ice. The entire dip in the powerplay’s performance with Boyle on the ice can be explained by fall in their shooting percentage.
Producing shots on the powerplay is a lot more predictive of future success than a high shooting percentage is.
At 37, Dan Boyle certainly isn’t the player he was when he won the Cup in Tampa Bay ten years ago, but I think he can still help the New York Rangers. Boyle’s points per game fell this season to 0.48 after being as high as 0.59 as recently as 2011-12. However, that’s largely a superficial difference, as the difference is more than explained by his secondary assist rate (which is only noise) being sliced in half. This season, Boyle’s primary assist rate was consistent with two years ago, and his goal rate was higher.
As a right-handed defenseman who can help on the powerplay, Dan Boyle should be of interest to the Rangers, if he’s willing to be flexible in his demands.