Out of playoff contention, the Devils began the process of rebuilding for the future today. They traded Brian Boyle to the Predators in exchange for a Nashville 2019 second round pick.
A popular figure in the locker room and on the ice for his courageous battle with cancer, the 34-year old veteran center has been a true inspiration to many in the hockey world. He successfully fought Leukemia last season after being diagnosed. In his return to the Devils who be signed a two-year contract worth $5.1 million with, it took him nine days to score his first goal against Edmonton. The emotional moment got to him. He cried after the goal, showing how much it meant to adoring fans at The Rock.
There were other special moments during that season like Boyle being called upon by coach John Hynes to beat former Rangers teammate Henrik Lundqvist in a Devils shootout victory. He scored some big goals for the surprising team to help them make the playoffs. That included a career best five power play goals. He finished the ’17-18 season with 13 goals and 10 assists for 23 points in 69 games. A year which included a first ever All-Star Game when he replaced Taylor Hall. Even though the team came up short in losing a first round series to the Lightning, they wouldn’t have been there without Boyle’s contributions.
In Year Two after declaring himself cancer free, Boyle’s continued to perform well despite the team’s struggles. In scoring his 13th goal in a road win over the Penguins, he matched last season’s goal total. He’s gotten into 47 games so far producing 13 goals and six assists for 19 points. That’s included a new career high of six power play goals. The breakdown is six at even strength, six on the power play, and one shorthanded. This magic moment won’t soon be forgotten at the Pens.
Now, he’ll relocate to Nashville, who are a Stanley Cup contender out in the wild, wild West. The Predators are a team that’s come close before. They lost in six games to the Penguins two years ago. Last Spring was a disappointing conclusion in a tough second round series to Winnipeg where they lost the deciding seventh game on home ice.
They’re hoping adding a strong character and leader in Boyle can help get them over the top. He’s certainly got a wealth of postseason experience. Boyle has been to two Stanley Cup Finals with the Rangers (’14) and Lightning (’15). He’s also competed in four Conference Finals including two here in New York and two in Tampa.
The kind of gritty player teams need for a run, he gets another chance to go win a Cup. Ironically, he’ll be joined by now former Ranger Cody McLeod. The fourth line energizer was reacquired by the Predators for a seventh round pick.
So, both the Devils and Rangers made deals with Nashville on the same day. Go figure. McLeod got into 15 games during the 2017 Playoffs with the Preds. In parts of two seasons on Broadway, he totaled 56 games with a goal, two assists and 99 penalty minutes. Like Boyle, he’s also 34.
It’ll be interesting to see if these moves will work. Obviously, Boyle is the bigger impact player who’s familiar with the playoffs. Wishing him the very best.