Boyle's return like trading for a defenseman
There is no timetable yet for Dan Boyle's return to action, but the defenseman got some good news this week after being examined for two days in Baltimore by Thomas Graham, who performed Boyle's second wrist tendon surgery. (See the story in Saturday's paper). But when Boyle does return, it will set up an interesting dynamic, one in which you could consider his addition, if you really want to stretch an argument, like gaining an extra body in trade.
Let's for a moment assume the Lightning continues its resurgence and there is no excuse for owner Palace Sports & Entertainment to start thinking about cutting payroll by, perhaps, trading some of its core players. Let us also assume that the ownership situation does not change in the near term which means Palace Sports retains control and is steadfast in its desire to stick to its $44-million payroll budget.
Given all that, the most likely player acquisitions will be, in a sense, re-acquisitions; perhaps bringing up Karri Ramo to be Johan Holmqvist's backup (let's face it, Marc Denis has been on the bench so long at this point, even playing him is problematic), and getting Boyle back on the blue line.
Boyle's return could be one of the best additions the team could make, and it won't cost it another dime. Sure, Boyle will not be his old self right away or at any time during the season, given what he has gone through. But his minutes will not only give Tampa Bay's young defensemen a breather, it also will take some pressure off and greatly improve Tampa Bay's transition game.
Look, the team has no complaints with the job the youngsters on defense are doing. Shane O'Brien is 24, rookie Mike Lundin and Paul Ranger are 23. Doug Janik barely has played 100 NHL games. They blow up at times but they are giving all they have and that is all you can ask, and they are the building blocks for what a few years down the road should be a stellar blue line. Still, it is no secret GM Jay Feaster would love to add a veteran blue liner like he added Darryl Sydor the year Tampa Bay won the Cup. But with the ownership situation up in the air, the budget tight and with so little real depth with which to trade, Feaster is in a tough spot unless there is a decision to add some payroll.
That's the beauty of Boyle's return. It will give the defense a shot int he arm and be like bringing in a fresh face. Sure it's a way to spin a difficult situation, but with a trade to bring in a body from outside the organization a long shot at this point, that's all you may have.