UFA Dan Boyle Could Plug Hole On Wings’ Leaky Blueline

Boyle was carted off on a stretcher in Tuesday's win (Photo by Vu Ching).
Dan Boyle would be a solid addition to the Wings d-core. (Photo by Vu Ching).

If you listen closely you can already hear the naysayers chirping that Dan Boyle is washed up and not a good fit for the Detroit Red Wings. Yet, in spite of his age Boyle is still a very productive player.

The 37-year-old put up 36 points this season and his 12 goals were more than any Red Wing defender. Add in the fact that he’s a right-handed shot and that might be enough to send GM Ken Holland for a cold shower.

As Boyle tells the San Jose Mercury News, he certainly feels he’s got plenty of quality hockey left in him. “There’s going to be a lot of talk about my age and the decline in my game, which I’ve heard a lot” Boyle said. “I’m proud of how I finished the season, how I played in the playoffs.”

After watching Boyle’s performance against the Los Angeles Kings I tend to agree with him. If he’s lost a step then call me crazy because I just don’t see it.

He still quarterbacks a number one powerplay unit and logged big minutes for the Sharks on a nightly basis. And, his smooth skating, almost effortless style of game doesn’t lend itself to a lot of wear and tear on the body.

Thin Free Agent Market For D-Men

Don’t like the sounds of Dan Boyle in Detroit? Well then, does Matt Niskanen, Marek Zidlicky, Stephane Robidas, or Derek Morris tickle your fancy?

Matt Niskanen Penguins
UFA Matt Niskanen is another d-man the Wings will take a look at this summer. (Rich Kane/Icon SMI)

Quality right handed shooting d-men aren’t exactly a dime a dozen in the NHL at the moment. Niskanen might be the sexiest name on the list, but he’s due for a big raise next season. The reality is that some desperate team will severely overpay for his services.

Whereas, Boyle might be due for a pay cut… at least the Wings hope he is. In the final year of his deal in San Jose he earned $6,666,666. If Boyle is looking for that kind of money Detroit should definitely pass.

However, if the Wings could ink him somewhere in the $4-5 million dollar range that’s a deal they might sign off on. The Wings have made it known their number one priority this summer is to add a right handed blueliner to the lineup.

And, with inevitable changes coming to the roster over the next couple of months they will have the cap space to sign Boyle if the price is right.

Lack Of Veterans On Blueline

As of today, the average age of a Red Wings’ defensemen is 27-years-old. Yet, all season long the Wings leaned heavily on their most senior defender, 33-year-old Niklas Kronwall.

Kronwall responded with arguably his best season to date. However, if Detroit wants to avoid wearing Nicklas out, they would be wise to add another veteran d-man the team can lean on when times are tough.

The addition of Dan Boyle would provide Mike Babcock with some much needed flexibility on defense. He could plug Boyle in anywhere in the top two pairings.

Think about this: Niklas Kronwall and Jonathan Ericsson could remain together as the Wings’ number one pairing. Then, Babcock could team Boyle with youngster Danny DeKeyser on the second grouping.

Or, the Wings might choose to ignore free agency altogether. There has been some talk that any changes the team makes will come from within the organization with a player like Ryan Sproul.

However, it’s my belief that Detroit needs another horse on defense who has been in the trenches before. Dan Boyle can be that player for the Detroit Red Wings and to his skeptics he says this:

 “It’s too easy to say ‘he’s old and done, that’s just a thing that’s too easy to say”. “At some point that’ll be true, but I don’t believe for one second that that is true.”