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Can Brian Boyle Crack The Pittsburgh Penguins Roster?

With the Pittsburgh Penguins recently signing Brian Boyle to a professional tryout contract, could he actually crack the lineup?

On September 3, the Pittsburgh Penguins signed veteran forward Brian Boyle to a professional tryout contract. What does this mean? This is basically a trial for him to see how well he meshes with the current roster. If he fits in well, Boyle will likely be on the roster for opening night. If not, then he’s packing his bags and leaving. It’s tough to say if he’ll crack the roster, but who knows?

Boyle’s Career

The Los Angeles Kings drafted Boyle 26th overall in the 2003 NHL entry draft. His road to the NHL was long, but it finally paid off when he made his debut during the 2007-2008 season. Boyle officially became an NHL regular when he was traded to the New York Rangers. After five seasons with the Rangers, Boyle bounced from team to team as he played for the Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators and Florida Panthers.

Brian Boyle already has an impressive career under his belt, but he could finally win the Stanley Cup with the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Image Courtesy of Michael Reaves/Getty Images

In 805 career regular-season games, Boyle has accumulated 231 points. What’s even more impressive about him is the sheer number of playoff games he’s appeared in. Boyle has a whopping 118 playoff games as well as a total of 31 career playoff points. He also helped the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup final in 2014 as well as the Lightning in 2015.

Despite not being able to call one team home for too long, Boyle is an underrated player. He’s always been used as a depth-forward, centering either the third or fourth lines. His ability to win faceoffs is also worth mentioning as he has a career average of winning 50.5 percent of faceoffs. For some reference, Evgeni Malkin is one of the most skilled centers to ever sport a Penguins jersey, but he only has a career average of winning 44.2 faceoffs.

Will Boyle Fit with Pittsburgh?

This one is hard to say. He could most certainly impress management and earn a roster spot, but there’s one big question: what will his role be? There’s little to no chance that Boyle will be a center for the Penguins. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be on the first and second lines, respectively. Jeff Carter will be at the helm of the third, and Teddy Blueger on the fourth.

If Boyle is placed at wing, he could most certainly crack the lineup.
Image Courtesy of John E. Sokolowski/US PRESSWIRE

But could Boyle perform as a wing? That’s a lot more probable. Again, no shot on the first or second lines. However, Pittsburgh could throw him on Carter’s wing and split some time with Evan Rodrigues. He could also perform well on the fourth line with Blueger and Zach Aston-Reese. With Boyle’s ability in the defensive zone, that one could be a perfect match.

So what’s the verdict? Could Boyle actually make the lineup? It’s definitely possible, but it would be difficult for him. There’s plenty of NHL talent that wants their shot with Pittsburgh, so he’ll have to work incredibly hard to impress the management. With his leadership and grit, Boyle could be the final piece needed for a lengthy playoff run.

 

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