#22 / Defense / San Jose Sharks/Sort of the New York Islanders
2013 Cap Hit: $ 6,666,667
Offense. First and definitely foremost, Dan Boyle has been a consistently dangerous offensive player on the blueline throughout his entire career, especially on the PP. He has averaged a tick over 4 PPG per year through 15 years in the league, which is pretty impressive for a guy who was never drafted. While his points and points per game have been on the decline since scoring a 58 points (15g/43a) in 2009-10, he still scored enough last season, at age 37, to finish 34th in defenseman scoring. Even if his game declines a bit more, he's still likely to produce more than anybody else on the Avs blueline beyond Erik Johnson and Tyson Barrie. His age and wealth of playoff experience would serve the Avs young defenders well and his leadership and potential for mentoring especially Tyson Barrie can't be ignored. Boyle and Barrie are basically identical and size and the two play similar enough games that while they may be redundant on the roster, Boyle's ability to show Barrie the ropes as an offensive-defenseman who still plays pretty solid defense in his own right could lead to even greater things from the precocious Barrie. Defensively, Boyle has always been solid but unspectacular. He's positioning sound and like a lot of offensive-defensemen, Boyle uses his stick effectively on the defensive side of the puck as well.
At his age, with increasing injury issues, and ever-slowing foot speed, Boyle is in the twilight of his career and will need more protecting than he's experienced during the last 12 years of his career. While he hasn't averaged less than 20 TOI since his first couple seasons in the league, Boyle's role moving forward should be reduced enough that the team signing him doesn't feel the need to rely on him as the warhorse of his prime. Those days are behind him and Boyle should be managed much more carefully. His offense remains sound but his defense is only going to further deteriorate when it was never all that good to begin with. Power forwards overwhelm him with their size and quicker players take advantage of his slowing speed on a regular basis now. Concussion problems last season are major cause for concern moving forward because, as we've learned all to well in recent years, you just never know. Also scoring goals against your own team in OT is never good.
Boyle just completed a monster 6-year, $40M contract that pushed his career earnings over $54M total. Because he's 37 and teams are concerned about his skull, Boyle realistically is looking at a significant reduction in money earned. Word out of New York is Boyle is happy to be taking a much smaller contract as long as it comes from a true contender and carries at least two years If he would accept something along the lines of a 2-year, $6M deal, I think the Avs are going to be very much in play for his services.
Why It Works:
The mentor ship of Barrie, and to a lesser extent EJ, is the biggest selling point of bringing Dan Boyle to Colorado. While his offensive production, leadership, and playoff experience would all be a boon to Colorado's back line, Boyle is otherwise an awkward fit on an evolving defense searching for an identity.
I've been very on the fence about the idea of bringing Boyle to Colorado ever since rumors started dropping about mutual interest between player and team. I think I love the idea of what Boyle can bring to the locker room in teaching some of the younger guys about how to be a pro and certainly the work he does on the PP would mean a massive upgrade to the team's second unit either by way of him QBing it or moving one of EJ/Barrie down the depth chart. It creates the kind of mismatch potential that the team has sorely lacked with it's nearly non-existent depth of recent years and would alleviate some of the burden from EJ/Barrie to do the vast majority of the offensive heavy lifting. Assuming the contract is reasonable (short and cheap, just the way the Avs like it), I would be on board with this move.