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Boyle trade talk just won't stop

So, let's talk about Dan Boyle.

It's just speculation, unconfirmed chatter and gossip with no one inside the Lightning organization saying it's true. Still, the Tampa Bay defenseman, who could be the best puck-moving defenseman in the league, is the buzz of the NHL right now because of speculation he could be traded as part of a plan to clear some salary cap space for a team that, with 27 NHL contracts, including a big one (because potential bonuses that are calculated into the cap are potentially so huge) that No. 1 draft pick Steve Stamkos will sign, is over the $56.7-million limit.

There are many ways that will be reduced to the NHL's midpoint of about $48-million, where owner Oren Koules said he ultimately would like to land. Some players with two-way contract could be shuffled to the minors, and there will be trades, not necessarily for bodies but for draft choices to help replenish the stock that has been used to help rebuild the roster. Players such as Brad Lukowich, Jussi Jokinen, Jason Ward and even Michel Ouellet, though there is so much to be said about how well he played with Jeff Halpern last season, are not safe.

But is Boyle? That is the $6.667-million question. That is how much Boyle is scheduled to make in each year of his six-year, $40-million deal. So far the trade talk is all unconfirmed gossip, but there is no doubt it's out there and, as we read in today's paper, there are a lot of opinions about whether such a move would be good or bad.

For the Lightning, it would certainly lessen financial obligations. On the down side, the team has so little depth when it comes to puck-moving blue-liners, it seems like a good opportunity to shoot itself in the foot. That is unless it gets something back in return. The Ottawa Sun reported the Lightning might be interested in 22-year-old Senators defenseman Andrej Meszaros, who is a restricted free agent, made $984,000 last season and scored nine goals with 27 assists last season. He certainly would be less expensive, but does he have the skills to power an offense like Boyle does?

HDNet analyst John Vanbiesbrouck likes Meszaros' offensive skills but said he needs to be in a strictly structured system because while his offensive upside is huge, "He's going to be a big minus defensively."

But former Oilers assistant coach and CBC analyst Craig Simpson said Meszaros is a "hard worker and a good, solid defenseman, but he's not going to give you the things and abilities of a player like Boyle has."

All the talk might be moot. Boyle's agent George Bazos said his client, right now, is not inclined to waive a no-trade clause, even for a trip back to his native Ottawa. Besides, Bazos said, he received a call Tuesday from "Lightning management" that he said indicated Boyle is staying put.

"You can't replace Dan," Bazos said. "When rational people sit down and take a look at it and say, realistically, if they want to move Dan, how are they making the team better, they can't do it."         

[Last modified: Sunday, August 16, 2009 4:38pm]

    

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