August is almost done, and the teams will be preparing soon to make the trips around North America to their various training camps. We continue today our series on profiling each of the Rangers under contract, with our fifth installment.
Todays’ profile focuses on fourth line center Brian Boyle. One of seven centers on the projected NHL roster, Boyle could be one of those who finds himself fighting for a spot on the team.
Acquired during the 2009 NHL entry draft from the Los Angeles Kings, Brian Boyle has yet to live up to his promise as a first round pick – 2003, 26th overall. The 6-7 244lb center has size for sure, but is not really known for using it to his advantage.
Used predominantly as a fourth line forward so far in career, and also as a second tier penalty killer, Boyle came into the line-up as a replacement for Blair Betts, albeit one who hasn’t drawn the same sort of kudos for his defensive play that his predecessor did.
To be fair to Boyle, he doesn’t get much ice time, just 8:25 on average during last season. But with that said, it’s hard to see why he deserves more at this stage of his career. Averaging about one shot a game, he seldom looked like troubling the scorers last year, though his defensive game did seem to improve a bit as the year went on.
As a big body, he does take up a lot of space on the ice, which is certainly a plus when killing penalties. Despite parting ways with Fredrik Sjostrom and Blair Betts, the Rangers still managed to finish the season ranked 7th on the PK, allowing 49 goals on 317 penalty kills, and picking up three shorthanded goals – albeit two of those into empty nets.
While there are not a lot of fans of the rangy pivot, the coaching staff appear to value his contributions to date. In 2010-11 he should face increasing pressure however, with several players competing for spots.
His only assets being his size, his ability to handle playing a handful of minutes each game and some penalty killing, may not be enough to keep him in the line-up each night, but I expect he’ll be there opening night.
Look for him to get spelled more this year, as others start to eat up some of his ice time.
Team: New York Rangers (NHL)
Stats: 4 goals, 2 assists and 47 penalty minutes in 71 games
Team: New York Rangers
Stats: 2 goals, 5 assists and 50 penalty minutes in 60 games
Boyle is the middle child of thirteen.