Saturday, December 16, 2017
Tampa Bay Lightning

Brian Boyle, target of trade rumors, wants to stay with Lightning

DALLAS — Brian Boyle and his wife, Lauren, were talking last week as they enjoyed a bye-week staycation at Disney World.

Their son, Declan, 2, never wanted to leave the hotel pool, no matter how cold it was. Lauren's parents live in Orlando, which is a good thing with her pregnant with their second child, due in late May.

To the Boyles, Tampa Bay feels like home.

"We're really blessed to be able to play here," Brian said. "We've talked about it plenty of times, how wonderful it is to be playing in Tampa, being close to her family. The community here. We want to keep playing here."

But Brian, 32, could be in his final week in a Lightning uniform, depending on how things develop at the March 1 trade deadline.

Boyle, who can be an unrestricted free agent this summer, is drawing interest from several teams looking for a versatile veteran for a playoff push.

The Maple Leafs and Blue Jackets (with Boyle's former Rangers coach, John Tortorella) are reportedly among the suitors. So are the Oilers, which the Lightning hosts Tuesday.

"If teams want you, it means you're doing something right," Boyle said. "I want to add something to this team. I want to be an impact player, help us get to where we want to go. That's the way I've approached (the trade rumors). It's what's best for our team. Stuff like that, you have no control over."

It's no surprise that other teams want Boyle. But the word is that the Lightning's asking price is high.

It's hard to know what that price is, though early-round draft picks are likely being thrown around more often this year due to what has been described as a weak draft.

What Tampa Bay decides will be telling. If it trades Boyle, a productive player and strong leader, for picks or a prospect, that could be a sign it is giving up on making the playoffs.

Boyle hopes he's sticking around.

Other than wanting to avoid uprooting his family, Boyle said he has unfinished business in his third year with Tampa Bay. He would also be open to returning in free agency this summer, no matter what happens.

"I want to stay here," he said. "We've been on a mission for a few years now and haven't accomplished it yet. We want to do it here."

Take your pick: You think the uncertainty around the Lightning's playoff chances is tough on GM Steve Yzerman?

How about Al Murray?

The Lightning's scouting director is watching a moving target trying to get a handle on where the team might pick in the first round of June's draft. Murray recalled leaving for Europe a week or so ago with the Lightning projected at No. 3. A week later it was No. 8. Then No. 13. That's a huge difference.

"I would focus on a completely different player if picking top five versus 20 or 30," Murray said. "It's difficult to know where to send your people, where to spend your money. You can focus on a top-five guy and go on a winning streak, and then you pick 12 and none of those five guys are going to be available."

Murray said the Lightning just has to cast a wider net in its scouting the next few months.

"You've got to trust your people," he said.

SLAP SHOTS: Sounds like RW Ryan Callahan will have a doctor's appointment early this week that could go a long way in determining if he plays again this season. … Hard to believe that after the Canadiens fired Michel Therrien last week that Jon Cooper became the longest-tenured coach in the Eastern Conference. … Still quiet on the Ben Bishop trade front; the Stars' slide out of playoff contention probably took them out of the sweepstakes until the summer. … Jonathan Marchessault, who felt like the odd-man out of the Lightning forward group last season, is thriving in his first year with the Panthers, with whom he signed in free agency. His 34 points entering Saturday were more than Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Alex Killorn. … Oilers star Connor McDavid makes his first trip to Amalie Arena on Tuesday.

Joe Smith can be reached at [email protected] Follow @TBTimes_JSmith.

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