Monday, 27 February 2017

Lightning Trade Brian Boyle to Maple Leafs

If sending Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings in a deal yesterday didn't signal to the league that the Tampa Bay Lightning are sellers, today's trade that sent Brian Boyle to the Toronto Maple Leafs in exchange for a 2017 second-round pick and forward Byron Froese certainly should:
A pending-UFA, Boyle finishes his Lightning career having scored 41 goals and 66 points in 212 games.  Signed during the summer of 2014, Boyle was instrumental in solidifying Tampa's fourth line on its way to the Stanley Cup Final in 2015 and Eastern Conference Final in 2016.  He had a job to do, and on most nights he did it really well.  Fans and coaches alike knew exactly what they were going to get from #11 whenever he took to the ice.

In terms of return, it's a little bit difficult to judge.  The unbelievably crazy bounty that the Minnesota Wild paid the Arizona Coyotes for Martin Hanzal skewed fans' perception of what Boyle was worth, but on the whole it's difficult to be upset with a deal that turned a pending-UFA, fourth-line center into what will likely be a mid-second round pick and help for the Syracuse Crunch.  If you had told Bolts Nation before the start of the year that Boyle would generate that kind of return, most would have been happy.  What this move does is signal to Lightning fans that Steve Yzerman knows what he needs to do, and that he has no problem doing it.

Of particular note with regards to this deal, and an added bonus, is that the second-round pick coming the Lightning's way is set to be the highest selection among the three that Toronto currently holds.  The Maple Leafs hold their own pick, San Jose's, and Ottawa's.  While San Jose's is likely a lost cause, it's not difficult to envision at least one of Toronto or Ottawa missing the playoffs or being knocked out early in the first round.  Good players can certainly be found in that mid-40s range.

Looking at the big picture, it's tough not to wonder if there's some measure of significance with regards to the timing of the Lightning's two 'seller' trades.  By getting the business of moving Bishop and Boyle out of the way early, GM Steve Yzerman has left himself with both time and assets to make a bigger splash.  Based on the fact that the team called up a number of bodies today with no apparent injuries, another move happening in the immediate future is not outside the realm of possibility.  Reports are that the Bolts have been in touch with both Anaheim and Nashville recently, with the thought being that those teams target scoring help while Tampa desires a young defender.  A quick glance at the respective rosters makes it abundantly clear that there's a fit.

Until that next move breaks, there's nothing to do but wait.

As always, thanks for reading.

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