Throughout this season, the Boston Bruins have had plenty of players grab attention with their performances. David Pastrnak leads the NHL with 47 goals. Tuukka Rask is having a possible Vezina Trophy type of season in goal. Brad Marchand is closing in on a career-high (63 in 2018-19) in assists with 56.
All three are vital parts of the success that the Bruins have had and are a major reason why they lead the league with 97 points. One player who is not having an eye-popping season with his stats, but his play has gone underrated is Charlie Coyle. Whether it’s centering the third line or filling a hole on the right wing on the second line prior to the trade deadline, he has been under flying under the radar when it comes to the team’s success so far.
Coyle Acquired From Wild
Pastrnak and Marchand are home-grown talents for the Bruins through the draft. Coyle, who grew up 30 minutes South of the TD Garden in East Weymouth, Massachusetts, was drafted 28th overall in the first round of the 2010 Entry Draft by the San Jose Sharks. He was traded a year later to the Minnesota Wild for Brent Burns.
In seven seasons in Minnesota, he scored 91 goals and had 151 assists in the regular season. In the playoffs, he scored just seven goals and dished out eight assists in 44 games with a minus-17. In six playoff appearances for Coyle, the Wild made it out of the first round of the playoffs just twice in his time in Minnesota. Bruins general manager Don Sweeney swung a trade deadline deal last season getting Coyle from Minnesota in exchange for Ryan Donato and a fifth-round pick.
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At the time of the deal, it was more a move to add depth to the Bruins for the remainder of the regular season and in the playoffs. It turned out to be a bigger move than Boston expected.
Trade Payoff for Years to Come
Coyle scored nine goals and had seven assists with a plus-eight in the playoffs last season to help the Bruins advance to Game 7 of the Stanley Cup Final. He began the 2019-20 season with one year remaining on his contract, but his efforts last spring in the playoffs and early this season earned him a six-year contract extension on Nov. 27 to remain with the Black and Gold.
This season, he has 16 goals and 19 assists in 66 games with a plus-nine. Coach Bruce Cassidy has had him centering the third line and filling in at second-line right wing. His play has earned him more time on ice and an expanded role. Cassidy recently inserted him with the first power-play unit, replacing Jake DeBrusk. That move paid off with a power-play goal in a 4-3 win over the Dallas Stars on Feb. 27.
Being a third-line center means that your wings can change more than you would like. No matter who has been on either side of a Coyle, the 6-foot-3, 200-pound, right-handed shot has excelled this season. Sweeney recently traded Danton Heinen to the Anaheim Ducks for left wing Nick Ritchie, who was immediately placed beside Coyle in his first game before being bumped up to the second line. Recently, DeBrusk and Karson Kuhlman have been Coyle’s linemates since Ritchie was bumped up a line. Coyle has also been a valuable penalty killer for Boston as well.
Bruins Need Another Strong Postseason From Coyle
Coyle has fit in nicely with the Bruins in his first full season in Boston. Acquired along with Marcus Johansson last season at the trade deadline, both chipped into a long playoff run. Johansson signed a free-agent deal with the Buffalo Sabres last summer. If Boston is going to defend their Eastern Conference championship this year and make a run to the Final, Coyle will need to continue his solid season no matter where he plays. At center or right wing, he has been a pickup that can help the Bruins for years to come.
Scott Roche covers the Boston Bruins for The Hockey Writers. A frequent user of the Oxford comma. Scott has been a sports writer for 25 years for different sites and daily newspapers. Writing started out as a hobby, but it has become a passion for Scott over the years.