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Free Agent Spotlight: Brian Boyle would be a good fit, but a tough sell, for the Hurricanes

The big center ended last season with another team on the rise in Toronto. Could he be enticed to come to Carolina?

Washington Capitals v Toronto Maple Leafs - Game Four Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images

As a young team continues to develop, veteran assets are needed to help the core reach its potential. Whether it’s an experienced voice in the locker room, or a consistent presence on the ice, the right veteran make-up can steer the ship towards a playoff berth or playing golf in late April.

Brian Boyle, by all accounts, is a player who can help both in the room and on the ice. He has been a part of young groups that have shown playoff success in New York, Tampa and more recently Toronto following a trade deadline move to the Leafs this season.

Tale of the Tape

  • Age: 32
  • 2016-17 season: 13 goals, 12 assists, 25 points in 75 games
  • Career (LA, NYR, TB, TOR): 93 goals, 76 assists, 169 points in 624 games
  • 2016-17 Advanced Stats: 52.79% Corsi for, 100.6 PDO, 42.6% zone starts, 55.6% goals for
  • 2016-17 Salary: $2,000,000
  • Contract ending: 3 years, $6 million, $2 million AAV, signed July 1, 2014 (UFA)

Making the Case

With Jay McClement and Derek Ryan pending unrestricted free agents, the Canes are losing two of their top five producers in terms of face-off wins as the pair ended the season with 27% of the Canes won face-offs in 2016-17. Elias Lindholm’s future is on the wing, which means that the Hurricanes could use some consistency down the middle for next season behind Jordan Staal and Victor Rask. Nicolas Roy and Warren Foegele are on the horizon to help, but for a team that needs to make a playoff push this season, the Canes may be better off looking at the free agent market for depth.

Boyle took 581 face-offs last season, winning 52% of them, and has finished over 50% in draws in each of the last six seasons. The 6’6” center isn’t going to provide much in terms of offense, but he has scored over ten goals per season in his last three since moving on from the New York Rangers. His 25 points from a year ago are in line with his average since he became a full-time NHLer, and would be an upgrade on most of the Canes current bottom-six forwards. He has been a resilient forward throughout his full career, playing in 75-plus games in six of his eight seasons.

On the Other Hand...

Boyle can choose his destination for what may be the last multi-year contract that he receives and he seems to be a great fit for what the Maple Leafs are putting together in Toronto. It’s likely that he would position himself with a chance to make the playoffs and compete for the Stanley Cup for the remainder of his career. Coming to Carolina, where the Canes have missed out on the postseason in each of the last eight seasons, would be a leap of faith for Boyle.

The Verdict

Boyle would certainly provide stability down the middle and a veteran presence to continue to help the young Hurricanes core grow. However, at this point in his career, I would assume that the Massachusetts native would be looking to sign a contract that brings him closer to raising the Stanley Cup. Likely Carolina would have to overpay to get him to Raleigh, and with that in mind, it may not be the best fit on both sides.