Free agent defenseman Dan Boyle, who spent last year with the New York Rangers, is still searching for a contract. Boyle, 40, was ranked #42 on our list of the top 50 NHL unrestricted free agents this year. It seems unlikely he’ll return to the New York Rangers next year, despite the cap space they’ve cleared, given that they already have eight defensemen under contract, and four of them are right hand shots.
Still, Boyle has been a useful contributor his entire career, and remains so, despite going undrafted. Last year he put up 10 goal, and added 14 assists. His possession numbers were strong relative to a brutal possession team. Boyle won an Olympic gold medal playing for Canada in 2o10, and a Stanley Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004. He’s on the smaller side, especially for defensemen, at 5’11”, but he’s always moved the puck well.
The Edmonton Oilers have been searching for help on the right side of their defense all summer, with just Mark Fayne and Adam Larsson there currently. The Toronto Maple Leafs bid for his services when he was last a free agent in 2014, and also look to need depth on defense, but the return of Roman Polak on the right side probably rules then out. His hometown Ottawa Senators could use right-side depth after Erik Karlsson, but it’s worth noting that they’ll likely give Cody Ceci every opportunity to fill the second pairing role. None of these teams seem especially appealing to Boyle, given their recent struggles. At his age, he’s likely to want to play for a serious contender.
That said, the Dallas Stars, winners of the Central division title, only have John Klingberg among right handed defensemen with significant NHL experience, though Stephen Johns, with 14 games played in the NHL, is under contract. The Philadelphia Flyers, who’ve been carrying many puck moving defensemen of late, may have a use for him. They have seven defensemen under contract, with Brandon Manning still to sign, but none outside of Radko Gudas play right handed, and several don’t appear to be locks for playing time.
Boyle should be looking at a one-year contract at around $2MM, given that he’s still productive, but comes with a certain amount of risk as a 40 year-old defenseman. Still, he’s got enough rare qualities, his ability to carry the puck, his ability from the right hand side, that teams looking to balance their defense should seriously consider picking him up a a stop-gap option.