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Past Fantasy Outlooks
The 40-year-old veteran has never registered less than 20 points since becoming a full-time NHL player, but given his age and declining mobility, he certainly carries some risk. At this point in his career, Boyle is more a power-play specialist than a reliable top-four guy, and any team that signs him should expect as much. Last season, Boyle was second among Rangers defensemen in power-play ice time per game (2:10) but sixth in even-strength minutes (15:57).
Fantasy owners who bought Boyle last year hoping that a change of scenery would boost his production were disappointed, as he turned in just 20 points at age 38 in his first season with the Rangers. He did, however, come alive in the playoffs, tallying 10 points in 19 games, and should once again play a role on one of the Rangers' top two defensive pairings and power-play unit. While he's obviously not getting any younger, Boyle's all-around game is stil strong, and he should again post a helpful plus/minus for a Rangers team that tends to finish with very good goal differentials. However, the crafty veteran -- who signed a two-year contract with New York last offseason -- is unlikely to experience a massive offiensive resurgence in what could be his final NHL campaign.
Although the 38-year-old Boyle has noticed progressively-worsening point-per-season production, it was more about his personal desire to play on Broadway that brought the veteran blueliner to New York at a relatively cheap price tag (two years, $9 million). Not only can Boyle fill in for the bought-out Brad Richards as the power-play quarterback, but he's fairly decent on both the wing and of course his natural position, defense, where he'll replace the now departed Anton Stralman.
If you remove the 2007-08 season when he was sidelined due to injury, Boyle has been among the top 10 scoring defensemen every season since the 2005-06 season and hasn't been outside the top 20 since 2001-02. That is, with the exception of last season when he notched 20 points in 48 games to slip to 37th in points overall among defenseman. At 37, it would be reasonable to expect that Boyle will start to slow down, but it's just as likely that Boyle will rebound and continue to be the high-scoring defenseman he's always been. While he didn't tally points at his normal clip last season, he had eight points in 11 playoff games and had his best shooting percentage (7.2 percent) since the 2009-10 campaign. And then there was his highlight reel, end-to-end goal against Minnesota. Boyle is far from done. He should be a top draft pick among defenseman.
Boyle has quietly established himself as one of the steadiest offensive-minded defensemen in the NHL. The 36-year old veteran is the highest scoring defenseman in the league over the last four seasons with 49 goals and 164 assists for 213 points. His offense dropped off last year, but that was the result of playing through a broken foot. The arrival of Brad Stuart will take off some of the defensive pressure on the greybeard, so expect a solid offensive rebound this season. Draft him when everyone else figures he's in for an old-man's decline. You'll be laughing all the way to a title and they'll be crying in their beers.
Boyle has been remarkably consistent on a year-to-year basis, and three consecutive seasons falling in the 50-point range with the Sharks have helped him stay true to the trend. Furthermore, he has been on the better side of the plus/minus category ever since posting an unsightly minus-29 rating in 2007-08, the last of his six seasons with the Lightning. A power-play quarterback, Boyle tallied 27 points (4 G, 23 A) on the man advantage last season, good for seventh in the NHL. Consider drafting Boyle to anchor your fantasy team's blue line; he ranks near the elite at his position.
What makes Boyle special is that he plays defense, but can still hang with the greats on offense. Moreover, he's a character player who always has his heart set on winning. Ever since joining San Jose, he's stacked together consecutive seasons where he nearly reached 60 points. He'll be one of the first defenseman to fly off the boards in fantasy drafts, and for good reason.
Boyle sharpened the teeth of the defense in his first season with Team Teal. He's a fluid skater who employs first-rate ability with the puck. Take a look at his statistics: The 16 goals and 41 assists that he had in 2008-09 resulted in a No. 6 points ranking among NHL defensemen. Although every skater longs for the Stanley Cup, Boyle was particularly distraught when the Sharks fell short in his first year with the team. Provided he stays healthy, an angry Boyle could mean even more production in 2009-10.
Boyle will join fellow newcomer Rob Blake on the Sharks' blue line and power-play unit. The Sharks lost a solid defenseman in Brian Campbell to free agency, but Boyle figures to be an adequate replacement. However, 2007-08 was not a good year for Boyle to prove such worth after he suffered a rash of injuries. When healthy, Boyle was efficient on offense, notching 25 points in 37 games. No longer wearing a Lightning jersey boosts his value, and assuming he can log at least 70 games, Boyle will be a fantasy asset.
Boyle just doesn't get the credit he's due. His 63 points last season were the fourth-best among all NHL blueliners and led the Bolts in even-strength and power-play ice time. He makes a great first pass and is the catalyst for the Bolts' quick offense. In fact, he was probably the unsung hero behind the 100+ point seasons of Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis. Boyle is a fantasy stud; draft accordingly.
What kind of season did Boyle have in 2006-2007? Well, he increased his goal output by 33 percent to sit second in goals from the blue line (20) and increased his overall point total by just over 20 percent. His outlook for this year is just as strong, although don't expect increases like that again. He's a top-10 fantasy defender who quarterbacks the power play (37 points there last season) and should deliver close to 60 points this season. Draft early and enjoy.
One man's trash is another man's treasure, and Boyle is walking, talking and hockey-playing version of that old adage. Essentially discarded by the Panthers, Boyle found a home with the Lightning and in a few short years has become an offensive force from the blue line. The rule changes for 2005-06 should give Boyle the time and space needed to both spring his talented forwards on odd-man rushes and provide him the opportunity to jump in on those plays himself. He may slip a round in the draft after falling under 40 points last season but don't let that scare you off. The Lightning are going hard and fast after another Cup and Boyle will reap the rewards.