Too Soon to Tell:
During his five year tenure with the New York Rangers Brian Boyle was a fan favorite and served as a staple of the team’s penalty kill. With the exception of a career year in 2010-11 where he has 21 goals and 35 points, Boyle spent most of his career on the fourth line as a grinder with the ability to bring energy and occasionally goals and assists. When the season ended with a loss to the Kings in the finals, Boyle announced that he would be leaving New York in order to pursue a greater role in another organization, an understandable pursuit. For Rangers fans, memories of Boyle will likely be fond and it is very hard to blame the former first rounder for wanting to play a more important role on a team. The peculiar part of this scenario is that by going to Tampa Bay this offseason it seems unlikely Boyle will get what he was looking for. A roster with Stamkos, Filppula and Tyler Johnson makes it unlikely Boyle will escape the checking line. Perhaps he will shift to winger, a move he has made in the past, but this scenario is still questionable with Boyle finding more success in the past when he is playing center.
The departure of Brad Richards was written on the wall in the offseason of 2011 when he signed a 9-year $60-million deal with the blueshirts. Though the contract was front loaded it still seemed unlikely that Richards would be able to play well enough to convince the Rangers to pay him at 41 years old and thus avoid a buy out. After three productive years as a Ranger, the 34-year-old forward will head to Chicago on a one-year deal following his buy out only days after the season ended. As far as his Rangers legacy, he was a productive signing with 20 goals two out of his three years but in some ways will be scene as somewhat of a let down as the quarterback of a very streaky powerplay and a weak finish to his blueshirt tenure, looking gassed and out of steam in the later stages of last years Stanley Cup run. Despite his up and down Rangers career, his importance to the team was made clear with the signing of powerplay specialist Dan Boyle coming only weeks after Richards departure. He will be remembered as a good Ranger who never reached his ceiling, unless rumors of a possible return come to fruition.
After being selected fourth overall in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft and a journeyman career for five teams in 10 years, Benoit Pouliot had the strongest year of his career with 36 points in his first year as a Ranger. Much of his success could be attributed to his matching up with Zuccarello and Brassard on a line that meshed well down the stretch and was the best Rangers line for most of the year. The front office displayed fiscal discipline when they chose to let Pouliot go in a similar fashion to Brandon Prust several years ago. After proving himself on Broadway, the Edmonton Oilers overpaid for the winger’s services and the Rangers allowed him to leave rather than investing big money after one successful season. Though his stay was brief, Pouliot’s time as a Ranger is sure to be memorable with some timely goals and some baffling penalties. He is sure to be remembered fondly when you consider where he is going. The Rangers are not likely to play against him very often and he will not likely have as much of a chance to shine with a lineup that finished among the worst in the league last year.
The last addition to the Rangers new pipeline in Tampa Bay is defenseman Anton Stralman. After being claimed on waivers in the 2011-12 season, Stralman became a regular defensive started and a key cog in one of the leagues top units while lining up next to Marc Staal for the majority of his time. The reason he does not return this offseason is the big pay increase he got for heading south. A 5-year $22 million deal was too steep for the Rangers to match or attempt to compete with and days after they lost out on the Swedish blue liner they filled the void with a similarly priced deal with Dan Boyle. The biggest difference in the two contracts is the length, Stralman’s is four years and Boyle only got two, and the added value Boyle brings on special teams. Stralman was a great steal on waivers and served the Rangers well in his time with the team. Unless the Rangers meet the Lightning in a playoff series or two it is safe to say him and teammate Brian Boyle are safely well regarded in the garden unlike the third former Ranger on their squad Ryan Callahan.
My name is Jason Bisnoff and I am a native New Yorker and currently work for the International New York Times. I have been published in the New York Daily News, Albany Times-Union, Metroland, The Nabe, Florence Magazine, 219 Magazine and previously did hockey writing for Hockey This Week.