Dan Boyle already knew he wasn’t going to remain in San Jose beyond this offseason, as the team made that clear days after its first round loss to the Los Angeles Kings. Now it appears that there’s a team willing to gamble a draft pick to get him before he ever hits the open market.
The New York Islanders have traded a conditional fifth round pick in the 2015 draft to the San Jose Sharks in exchange for the rights to defenseman Dan Boyle, who will be a free agent on July 1 of this year unless New York can re-sign him. If the Isles do re-sign Dan Boyle, the pick will be a fourth rounder for San Jose.
This isn’t a new move for the Islanders. They tried as much with Christian Ehrhoff in 2011, and the move didn’t succeed per se, but it didn’t fail either. The Islanders recouped their pick when they shuffled Ehrhoff to Buffalo for a 4th round pick — the same round of pick they’d given up for Ehrhoff’s rights.
Once again, Islanders GM Garth Snow is hoping to snatch a veteran puck moving defenseman before he hits the open market on July 1. With Dan Boyle, there’s a little more risk though. Ehrhoff was 28 years old when the Islanders had him targeted. It was reasonable for Snow to think Ehrhoff could be a centerpiece in a New York turnaround for years to come.
While Dan Boyle has been an elite talent in the NHL for a while, he will be 38 by training camp this fall. With only a few seasons left in Boyle’s career, one has to wonder how much patience he will have with an Islanders team that finished with one of the five worst records in the league. The Islanders aren’t exactly knocking on Lord Stanley’s door with or without Boyle next season, so if winning is a major factor for Boyle, this probably won’t be a great fit.
So if the Islanders want to make this work, they’ll have to commit to more money and more term than is likely reasonable in the next couple years for Dan Boyle. It’s certainly possible — the team has loads of cap space — but neither of these things are what the Islanders are known for doing.
That’s why it’s reasonable to wonder whether or not Garth Snow already has assurances that Boyle would be happy to play in New York. Snow may also figure that, like in 2011, if Boyle doesn’t sign then the Islanders can flip him for a pick next year to a team willing to give up, say, a fourth round pick for Boyle. This kind of move would be great for a team like Colorado, Minnesota or St. Louis if they could find the cap space to sign Boyle. A team right on the cusp of the contender’s ring that needs another boost would love to nab Boyle before July 1, and if the Islanders can’t have him, they can at least get something for him.
If that’s the play, it’s not a terrible one. The Islanders would essentially move up a round in the draft for the price of some paperwork. Not a bad day’s work. If they sign Dan Boyle, even better. New York doesn’t have a first round pick in 2015 so they have nothing to lose by going all out for every win they can get in the 2014-15 season. If Garth Snow manages to sign Dan Boyle, this will have been a strong coup for next season for a team that saw last season crash in the face of heightened expectations.