The Pittsburgh Penguins are bringing in some experience to training camp. The team announced today that both Brian Boyle and Matt Bartkowski have signed professional tryouts with the club and will be at camp later this month.
Boyle, 36, didn’t play anywhere in 2020-21 before joining the U.S. contingent at the IIHF World Championship, where he captained the squad to a bronze medal. He actually opened some eyes with his play, which resulted in two goals and three points in ten games despite his advanced age, and suggested that a return to the NHL could be possible for the 2021-22 season. That chance is now apparent in Pittsburgh, where he’ll battle for an NHL contract at training camp.
There’s a lot to like in the 6’6″ forward, who has played 805 regular season games over a long career. Boyle at one point was on a streak of deep playoff runs, getting to the Stanley Cup Finals in back-to-back seasons with the New York Rangers and Tampa Bay Lightning. Though he’ll never again be the 20-goal scorer he was in 2010-11, he’s an excellent faceoff man that can add size to the fourth line and chip in offensively now and again. Even while playing just 12 minutes a game with the Florida Panthers in 2019-20 he managed six goals and 15 points in 39 games.
Bartkowski on the other hand has only played 256 NHL games to this point, last finding a regular lineup spot in 2015-16 with the Vancouver Canucks. He played just one game for the Minnesota Wild last season, spending most of the year with the Iowa Wild of the AHL. That injury replacement role is exactly the kind he’s likely fighting for in Penguins camp, but an NHL contract for the veteran defenseman isn’t out of the question.
One thing to note with any PTO is that it is not just a showcase for the team that signs it, but for the entire league. If Boyle or Bartkowski show enough to catch the eye of another team, they are allowed to sign with anyone they want.