Agent: Boyle inclined to stay put
There has been a lot of speculation recently that the Lightning is intending to try to trade defenseman Dan Boyle to free up some cap space. The talk almost certainly will heat up now that Tampa Bay acquired from the Flyers, minor league defenseman Janne Niskala, who had 19 goals and 44 points in 80 games last season for AHL Milwaukee.
Before we even get into why the Lightning, as it stands at this moment, is in no position to give up one of the league's best puck-moving defensemen, let's start with this: Dan Boyle, recently married to a local woman and expecting a child in late November, has a no-trade clause that his agent said Monday Boyle likely is not inclined to waive.
"I haven't pushed it with Dan other than when we signed," agent George Bazos said of when Boyle signed his six-year, $40-million deal. "Dan wants to be in Tampa. Nothing has changed as far as that goes. My best guess is that Dan would not want to waive his no-trade clause right now."
And unless the Lightning has plans for a huge trade that would bring in another puck-moving defenseman, or is looking to grab a defenseman in free agency, something owner Oren Koules said is not in their plans, losing Dan Boyle seems a bit of a head-scratcher.
Consider, first, Niskala has yet to play an NHL game. Consider also that there is no one else in the organization with Boyle's kind of puck-moving skills or who can control the transition and the power play like he can. Recall when Boyle was hurt last season, the Lightning had a tough time on the transition to the point it changed its breakouts. As we have mentioned before, Paul Ranger may have it in him but who knows if he will be 100 percent after shoulder surgery. Shane O'Brien? He has the instincts but, right now, not the experience or focus.
To me, and this is just me, it would seem more reasonable to perhaps try and trade, say, Filip Kuba, a huge disappointment last season. That would save $3-million off the cap.
Look, who's to say what will happen? The Lightning after this free agent frenzy may sit down, take stock of what it has and needs and decides on certain courses of action. But for now, Bazos said the team has not contacted him in any way about his client's future with the team and has not asked Boyle to waive his no-trade clause. Still, the Boyle thing seems odd to me. Can't imagine Boyle feels too good either hearing and reading about this stuff. He signed with the Lightning, after all, because he wants to stay here and believes in the franchise.
[Dirk Shadd, Times files]