The New Jersey Devils announced that veteran center Brian Boyle, who has been out after being diagnosed with a form of bone cancer, Chronic Myeloid Leukemia, has been cleared for full practice with the team today.
Signed at the start of the offseason, Boyle was expected to play a large role at the center position for the team. The 32-year-old veteran scored 13 goals and nine assists in 54 games with Tampa Bay last year before he was traded to Toronto at the trade deadline. He struggled adjusting in Toronto in 21 games, putting up no goals and just three assists. He had two assists in the Maple Leafs’ six playoff games. However, his role had expected to be larger in New Jersey this year after he signed a two-year, $5.5MM deal.
He has not had a chance to play with his new team, however, after being diagnosed. However, the diagnosis was found early enough that he was expected to be able to treat it with medication and had hoped to be back by the start of the season. Delayed a bit, it looks like he is ready to return soon. Dan Rosen of NHL.com tweets that there is no timetable for his return, while Chris Johnston of Sportsnet tweets that the main obstacle is the team is not sure where Boyle’s conditioning and energy levels are.
The team have had quite a few ups and downs at the center position this year as Travis Zajac suffered a torn pectoral muscle and is likely out until February, but the team’s top overall pick, Nico Hischier has made a successful adjustment to the NHL game so far and seems to be thriving at the center position. Despite their ups and downs, the Devils have been one of the bright spots of the NHL so far. The team is 6-2 so far this year, tied for second in the Eastern Conference.
Boyle has played for four different teams (not including New Jersey) and tallied 93 goals and 76 assists in his 624-game career.