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Boyle's return as a Shark brings inevitable comparisons

Comparisons between Dan Boyle and Matt Carle are inevitable Saturday at the St. Pete Times Forum, the first time they will face off since July's controversial deal that sent Boyle to the Sharks and Carle to the Lightning.

It is a trade that, in the short term, anyway, seems a win for San Jose.

It's not that their stats are so different. Boyle entered Saturday with two assists, minus-2, with 16 shots and averaging 23:29 of ice time. Carle had an assist, was plus-2, with six shots and an average of 26:56.

It is that Boyle, 32, and in his 10th season, has a track record of making teammates better. Carle, 24, and in his fourth, is still trying to earn NHL credibility.

Boyle is an offensive spark plug and a power-play quarterback. Carle needs to gain more confidence with the puck and is part of a blue line Lightning coach Barry Melrose has said struggles in transition because it sometimes loses composure.

The Boyle situation is a raw nerve. He was a huge part of the Lightning's 2004 Stanley Cup run, and he claims the new owners "disrespected" him with the way his situation was handled.

The team will say Boyle's six-year, $40-million contract, which the incoming, but not official, ownership group was against when it was signed, would have been a drag on finances. And paying $6.667-million to Boyle in 2013-14 when he is 38 wouldn't make sense.

Carle, the calculation went, is a fresh, dynamic talent who had 11 goals, 42 points for San Jose in 2006-07. His upside is huge, and his four-year, $13.75-million salary is more cost effective.

Hard to fault the logic. Carle may mature into a superstar, and defensive prospect Ty Wishart, also acquired in the deal, is expected to be a good one. But right now, the Lightning, as its coach admits, has only one reliable puck mover: Paul Ranger, who is very good but not as dynamic as Boyle.

Like we said, comparisons are inevitable between Boyle and Carle, who can be as sloppy defensively as Boyle was when Tampa Bay traded for him in January 2002.

Right now, though, they might not be fair.

Boyle's return as a Shark brings inevitable comparisons 10/18/08 [Last modified: Sunday, October 26, 2008 12:48pm]

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