Bruins’ Coyle Needs to Continue to Build on 2021-22 Season

Charlie Coyle almost instantly became a fan favorite among the Boston Bruins after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild in exchange for Ryan Donato and a conditional fifth-round pick a little before the 2019 Trade Deadline. The 30-year-old is a native of Weymouth, Massachusetts and was drafted 28th overall in the 2010 NHL Entry Level Draft by the San Jose Sharks. Upon his arrival in Boston, he provided a nice boost to help get the team to the 2019 Stanley Cup Final. He followed it up with 37 points in 70 games in 2019-20, his first full season in the black and gold. His play earned him a six-year contract extension in November 2019.

Related: 3 Bruins’ Wishes for the 2022-23 Season

That six-year contract was not looking very good during the 2020-21, arguably his worst season statistically of his career. For most of his career, Coyle has hovered between averaging .40 and .50 points per game, making him a great middle-six player. In 2020-21 though, he only had 16 points in 51 games, which comes out to 0.31 points per game, even lower than his 14 points in 37 games in his rookie season back in 2012-13. 

Luckily for both Coyle and the Bruins, he saw a complete resurgence in 2021-22. He had 44 points, including 16 goals, in 82 games, his second-highest points total in his career. He finished seventh overall on the team in scoring and was a mostly reliable contributor throughout the year. 

Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins
Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Going into the 2022-23 season, the Bruins will need him to not only be the same player that he was last season but to continue to improve and contribute. While he is 30 years old, there is still plenty of hockey left ahead of him, and in the right role, he can really shine on this team.

Consistency Will Be Key

For most players, consistency is important, and Coyle is no exception to that. In his time with the Bruins, he has played up and down the lineup at center and out on the wing. Last season, he was originally slated to play in the second-line center role after the departure of David Krejci left a huge hole down the middle. While he started the 2021-22 season there, he did not stay there and eventually found his home in the third-line center role. 

With Krejci’s return this season, there should be no question as to where Coyle should be in the lineup. He is a great fit on the third line and is projected to have Craig Smith and Nick Foligno on his wings.

Charlie Coyle Boston Bruins
Charlie Coyle, Boston Bruins (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Coyle has shown to have great chemistry with Smith in prior years, and the two of them may really help get the third line to become a source of consistent contributions. As most people know, the Bruins have struggled with consistent contributions on offense outside of Brad Marchand, Patrice Bergeron, and David Pastrnak. In what may be an extremely competitive Atlantic Division this year, the team is going to need to establish themselves early if they don’t want to be playing catch up and fighting to climb up into a playoff position later in the season.

Coyle Faces Competition

The Bruins’ major new addition this year is Pavel Zacha. The 25-year-old was acquired from the New Jersey Devils early in the summer and will be looking to take the next step in his career after struggling to live up to expectations of a former sixth overall selection in New Jersey. At the moment, he is projected to play wing on the top line to start the season, but he is another candidate for the third-line center role, especially after Marchand returns from injury in December. 

Pavel Zacha New Jersey Devils
Pavel Zacha, a former member of the New Jersey Devils (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

However, healthy competition is never a bad thing. Coyle is looking to build on his success from last season, and Zacha wants to become a better NHL contributor. With the injury situation in Boston, the team is really going to need guys to step up to try and fill in the hole left by Marchand in this lineup. Both will have plenty of opportunities to establish themselves early as the guy to do so. 

Coyle has spent plenty of time of his career out on the wing and should still be able to be a real contributor out there should be moved, and Zacha put in the third-line center role. But if he wants to stay where he found some success last season, he has to be ready to go right from the start. With a new coach and a rapidly closing window, the pressure is certainly on for the Bruins this season.

Four More Years Ahead

As mentioned above, Coyle was signed to a fairly lengthy contract extension less than a year after his trade to Boston. He is entering his third year of that contract and is signed through the 2025-26 season, which will put him at 34 at the end. 

The thirties can be an interesting time in a player’s career. As we’ve seen, many guys can still play at a very high level well into their late 30s, while some really begin to decline. Coyle turned 30 this past March, so this upcoming season will be an interesting marker to see how the final few years of his contract will go. He is a local boy and a fan favorite, but given the current state of the Bruins roster, they may be looking at a rebuild in the next few years and will need to move some of their older players to make room for younger guys. 

Related: Bruins Have Some Decisions to Make With Craig Smith

Coyle has a modified No Trade Clause with an eight-team no-trade list this season through 2025, and it becomes a three-team no-trade list in 2025-26. That may be an important thing to keep in mind if he has a season this year that is more like 2020-21 than last season. 

If the Bruins have any hope of being a contender this season, they need strength down the middle and legitimate, consistent depth scoring. Barring any drastic changes in Bergeron or Krejci, you know you’ll have a pretty decent duo with them. The questions start to come in with the third line. Will Coyle be able to build on his momentum last season? Or will he be pushed up to the wing in favor of Zacha? Only time will tell and luckily, there isn’t much longer to wait.


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