The Toronto Maple Leafs have acquired forward Brian Boyle from the Tampa Bay Lightning in exchange Byron Froese and a second-round draft pick in the 2017 NHL Entry Draft. The deal was announced Monday, two days ahead of the NHL’s trade deadline on March 1. The second-round pick that the Lightning are receiving is conditional, with the highest second round pick that the Leafs own being sent to Tampa Bay in the deal.
— Tampa Bay Lightning (@TBLightning) February 27, 2017
As TSN reported, Maple Leafs head coach Mike Babcock mentioned Saturday night that the team had a need at center ice for the Leafs as they make a push for the postseason.
“We have good depth in spots, but not as much at center ice,” Babcock said. “If we’re in a position to try and help the guys, we’ll help the guys.”
Veteran Experience to a Young Leafs Team
Boyle will bring experience down the middle, as well as a veteran presence to a young Maple Leafs team that looks to be ahead of schedule in their accelerated rebuild process. The 32-year-old has scored 13 goals and 22 points in 54 games this season, and is considered a very good penalty killer and is proficient in the faceoff circle. He’s played in each of the last six postseasons, totaling 12 goals and 26 points in 100 games.
With the experience Boyle brings to the lineup, the Leafs look better positioned to make a run for the playoffs in a very tight Atlantic Division. With 12 points separating the first-place team in the division and the seventh-place team, the Maple Leafs are right in the thick of things with 69 points – only five points out of first place.
For the Lighting, this deal was expected due to the pending unrestricted free agent status of Boyle. The team moved Ben Bishop to the Los Angeles Kings on Sunday night, and it’s clear that they are keeping their eye on the future with deals to accumulate prospects and draft picks to get something for their players before potentially losing them for nothing at the Expansion Draft or on July 1.
Prospect and Pick to Lightning
In addition to the second-round draft pick, the Lightning are also receiving 25-year-old prospect Byron Froese. The 6-foot, 205-pound forward has played in 58 career NHL games (all coming with the Maple Leafs in 2015-16 and 2016-17, and he’s scored two goals and five points.
Originally drafted by the Chicago Blackhawks in the with the 119th overall draft pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, Froese leads the Toronto Marlies in the AHL this season in goals (24) and points (39) through 48 games. In 195 career AHL games, he has scored 49 goals and 101 points and has accumulated 81 penalty minutes in the process.
The Tampa Bay Lightning are at risk of missing the playoffs this season due to various injuries and underwhelming play at various stretches of the season. With this deal, it looks like the Lightning are preparing for this possibility and are keeping their options open ahead of the expansion draft, and free agency when many key pieces of their roster will need to have their contracts extended. Some of the notable players that the Lightning need to extend include Tyler Johnson, Ondrej Palat and Jonathan Drouin among others.
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Brandon Share-Cohen has covered the NHL and various professional sports for six years. Working with The Hockey Writers, Brandon works extensively on covering the Boston Bruins in addition to his role as the News Team Lead.