The Nashville Predators made a lot of progress towards fortifying their roster on Wednesday, acquiring forwards Brian Boyle from the New Jersey Devils and Cody McLeod from the New York Rangers.
While the McLeod acquisition was more of a “locker room” character type addition (and makes more sense with the news that Zac Rinaldo will be out for the season with shoulder surgery), the Boyle acquisition might end up being one of David Poile’s best trade deadline deals of all time.
Mostly because Boyle checks two boxes on the Predators’ wish list prior to Wednesday: getting bigger and improving the power play.
Brian Boyle is 6’6″ and 245 pounds and will arrive in Nashville the largest hockey player in the Predators’ locker room. He’ll make Mattias Ekholm, the Preds’ largest defenseman, look small.
This is something that David Poile says he was looking for in the trade market.
“I think we wanted to have more size in our lineup,” Poile said in a press conference Wednesday. “I think we crossed off those boxes with adding Cody McLeod, for sure, and Brian Boyle.”
The need for size is obvious. The Predators at some point will have to face the Winnipeg Jets in the playoffs again. Their size gave the Preds fits in the playoffs last year and earlier this year in a 5-1 loss at Bridgestone Arena.
Cost is reportedly a 2nd round pick.
(📸 Kim Klement/USA TODAY Sports) pic.twitter.com/HvVQoHSfaN
— AtoZSports Nashville (@AtoZSports) February 6, 2019
Boyle is not only big, he plays a nice defensive game. In a way, his role will be similar to Mike Fisher’s in the 2017 playoffs: shut down the opposing forward line and take plenty of defensive starts.
But Boyle is probably an even more effective player for shutting down forwards like Mark Scheifele, Blake Wheeler, and Patrik Laine than Fisher was, simply because of his size. He can shed guys off position in the slot, bully guys on the boards, and prevent easy zone access on the blueline.
Poile also indicated that Boyle is a player that’s “going to get used in a lot of different areas for our club to make some differences.”
One of those areas will undoubtedly be…
On the power play
Brian Boyle has six power play goals this season. This doesn’t sound like much, until you see that Filip Forsberg leads the Predators with five.
It’s odd to think, but Brian Boyle will likely play on the 4th line and on the first power play unit simultaneosly. That’s rare.
The Predators are in desperate need of some power play help, despite finally scoring on the man advantage on Tuesday against the Coyotes. Filip Forsberg’s goal broke an 0-for-34 streak, but the Preds are in no hurry to repeat that sort of streak. Boyle will help in that regard.
Boyle’s skill set is unique in that he’s a big man that can play in front of the net with the puck. He uses his body position well and he stays in around the net long enough to find opportunities, such as in this power play goal against the Stars in 2017.
Brian Boyle tallies a power play goal for his 100th NHL goal….
and then gets in a heated argument and gets a 10 minute misconduct! pic.twitter.com/nrnSeX0vhV
— Hockey Daily (@HockeyDaily365) December 16, 2017
Come for Boyle’s net front presence, stay for Boyle jawing with John Klingberg and Greg Pateryn after the score.
In a conference call to media on Wednesday, Boyle indicated he can play center or wing, as well as on the power play and penalty kill, adding “I want to fit in and be a difference maker as best I can.”
Brian Boyle cost a 2019 2nd round pick, which isn’t nothing. But with everything that he can do to help the Predators right now, and considering that 2nd round picks are hardly “sure things,” it’s a reasonable cost.
— Featured image via Christopher Hanewinckel/USA TODAY Sports —