After not being signed by an NHL team during the 2019 offseason, forward Brian Boyle finally landed an NHL contract with the Florida Panthers during the month of October.
A year after winning the Masterton Trophy in 2018, the American-born centerman had a phenomenal 2019 campaign. While splitting time between the New Jersey Devils and Nashville Predators, Boyle recorded a decent offensive slash line of 18 goals and 6 assists for 24 total points in 73 NHL games.
He also produced fairly well in various other categories. The polished bottom-six forward produced a 51% faceoff winning percentage, along with 50 blocked shots and 145 total hits. Furthermore, Boyle was also solid on the defensive end, recording more takeaways (22) than giveaways (17) on the season for two different teams.
Thankfully for Florida’s sake, there was not a single NHL team who was willing to provide the experienced Boyle with a one-way NHL contract. With Boyle still remaining as a free agent to start the season, General Manager Dale Tallon made the right move by bringing him in for depth and veteran presence.
Dale was able to sign the savvy veteran savvy one-year contract worth slightly over $900k. With the unfortunate injury to former all-star Vincent Trocheck, Brian Boyle has stepped in admirably during Vinny’s absence, anchoring the second line for the Panthers during the previous seven games. In fact, the injury to Trocheck allowed the Panthers to sign Boyle because a replacement at the center position was needed.
Standing at 6’6” and 245 pounds, the intimidating Boyle has provided a physical presence for the Cats. The soon-to-be 35-year-old native of Massachusetts has produced quite well for the Florida Panthers on both sides of the ice, so far.
While participating in seven regular-season games, Boyle has recorded a line of 2 goals and 2 assists for 4 total points. The former first-round selection from the 2003 NHL Entry Level Draft has also been good defensively, recording a +4 rating, 8 blocked shots, 11 hits, and 5 takeaways to only 1 giveaway.
As well, Boyle has done a phenomenal job on both the penalty kill and power-play units, serving a highly critical role on special teams for the Cats. Brian does a tremendous job in terms of screening the goalie during the power play and is brilliant in regards to blocking shots as well as clearing the zone while a man down.
Furthermore, he’s recorded a faceoff winning percentage of approximately 59%, helping the Cats achieve continuous success in the faceoff circle. Although Boyle is not suited to continue playing as a second-line centerman, the imminent return of Vincent Trocheck will allow Boyle to return to a bottom-six role as either a third or fourth-line centerman.
Essentially, the Boyle acquisition has seemingly been yet another under-the-radar move by Dale Tallon. The signing of Boyle has provided Florida with depth, and also enabled the Cats to demote promising centerman Henrik Borgstrom to the Springfield Thunderbirds for further development.
The presence of Boyle allows Borgstrom to continue to develop in the minors during the 2020 season. Once Borgstrom is deemed ready for the NHL, the Panthers will likely slot him into the lineup as a third-line winger alongside natural centerman Brian Boyle. This will remove more responsibilities off of Borgstrom’s shoulders, hence enabling himself to thrive on the offensive side of the ice.
In hindsight, Brian Boyle is a highly dependable veteran leader. Boyle will continue to provide veteran leadership, offensive and defensive production, playoff experience and success, a powerful voice in the locker room, and a weapon on both the power play and penalty kill.
With the recent addition of Brian Boyle, the Florida Panthers will hope to successfully clinch a playoff spot and top seed in the Atlantic Division.