Player evaluation: Boyle

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BRIAN BOYLE
This season: 28 games, 4 goals, 1 assist, 36 penalty minutes, 10:08 average ice time.
The good: Once again, Boyle showed just enough potential to make some team followers cringe at the thought of him signing elsewhere and having a successful NHL career. He had a two-goal game against Phoenix on April 4 and played well enough, in the eyes of Terry Murray, to earn second-line center minutes late in the season.
The bad: Once again, Boyle couldn’t stick in the NHL because he couldn’t convince Terry Murray and Dean Lombardi that he would play enough of a physical game to satisfy their desires. Whether you think Boyle is soft, or whether you think he’s being asked to play a role that doesn’t suit his game, it doesn’t really matter. Murray and Lombardi have made clear what they want from Boyle, and so far he hasn’t been able to provide it on a consistent basis. Boyle’s numbers in Manchester (10 goals, 11 assists in 42 games) were not overwhelming either.
Going forward: Boyle is a restricted free agent this summer, so if the Kings offer him a contract, he will be back. The fact that Boyle is still young (24) and has potential, coupled with the fact that the Kings’ system isn’t exactly flush with forwards, probably makes it more likely than not that Boyle will still be in the Kings’ system next season. He would, however, have to show a lot in training camp in order to earn a NHL roster spot.

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  • anthonyy

    Too incnsistent to give him another chance.
    Wouldn’t offer him more than a two way contract.
    Seeing him glide on the ice instead of skate is annoying.

  • Dan H.

    Boyle could flourish if they put him with someone else that has hands. You saw a flash with him and Purcell down the stretch. He’s not afraid to go to the net and put his work in there.

    I think DL and TM want him to be the hard hitting hammering power forward and that’s not who he is. He may be better suited going elsewhere if they don’t play him where he plays best.

    We saw a lot of that going on this season with different players and part is because they don’t have the personnel and they’re moving people around hoping it works, and part because the coaches either don’t get the players strengths and weaknesses or think they can mold them into players they just aren’t.

    Kings would be fools not to resign this guy.

  • m

    His play near the end of the season started to show that he was “getting it.” He has to know he’s down to his last shot to stick with the team.

    Give him a 1-year qualifying offer and see if he comes to camp as if he learned anything in the offseason.

  • Matt George

    RICH,

    I don’t know if anyone has requested this yet but, would now be a good time to evaluate the top five or ten names in the draft so that we could have an idea of where we might stand after tomorrow?

    matt

  • variable

    i could go either way on this one…

    we all see what boyle is capable of doing…but how much longer are we/should we be waiting for him to do it on an everyday/consistent basis…?

    it’s hard not to compare boyle to chara interms of their size…

    it took chara a couple of seasons being labeled as a “gentle giant” before he reinvented himself as a beast nobody likes to play against…

    does boyle possess the mindset to get over this hurdle…? i think that’s the biggest question regarding his physicality and his ability to become more than just a fourth liner/bench reserve…

    if i had to make the choice today, i would offer him a 2-way/1 year deal…but would not hesitate to let him go if he wants more and/or another team is willing to give him better terms/more money….

  • CanadianKing

    I don’t really understand peoples infatuation with Boyle. I suppose it’s because he’s a giant who can skate.

    As I see it, there’s no room for Boyle on this team and he hasn’t done anything to prove he’s even worthy of fourth line duties.

  • Dominic Lavoie

    The way you phrased things for Boyle under “The Good” is exactly right. Some of us are scared to death of what might happen if another organization gets a hold of him and gives him a chance to keep developing. He just finished his second pro season. His first year pro was successful in the minors. His second year obviously was a step backward. Hopefully he gets qualified and returns next season ready to do what it takes to be an nhl player.

  • 4thlinechecker

    I like Boyle, and I think we will keep him because we dont have enough forwards…… If he learned to play D, why couldnt he become a big winger?

    Dont get excited about what he did at the end of this season, because he did great in the garbage games last season then was non existent to start the season. I hope he lives up to his potential, brecause he could do some damage.

  • Old School

    Dan H. is correct. Boyle is big (6-6), can skate and pass, and shoots the puck hard at the net. He takes up a lot of space in front of the net, screening the other team’s goaltender on the power play. We have not seen the best of him yet – why would you want to cut a former first-round draft pick without giving him more of a chance? This guy can score goals, and help his teammates score, too. He can be taught to be more physical, but you can’t teach size to other skilled players who are small but already physical.

    Re-sign him and move on to important decisions, such as whom to pick in the draft, and what free-agent left winger to sign. If he doesn’t develop, then cut or trade him later on. This is a no-brainer.

  • stats1

    Boyle was paired with Army at the MTP party for 1 reason…he needs to learn firsthand what it takes to be/stay in the NHL. If he’s not willing to do the work on or off the ice, he doesn’t belong. Qualify him for 1 year, and if he’s not 100% at the start of camp; put him on the block and get someone else. See if he’s flexible enough to learn wing?

  • Cynic

    Brian needs to do a few things in the offseason:

    1- Concentrate on his speed and agility. His size coupled with improvements in these 2 areas would make him a truly dominate center. The hitting would become natural, although he still needs to make it a focus to his game. The speed will allow him to jump into more plays as TM’s system is quite demanding defensively on centers. The agility will allow BB to recover faster when he does exert his physical presence.

    2- Hang out with Kevin Westgarth more. That may sound stupid, but K-West has a swagger in his step that is focused enough to not overshadow the teams needs. Brian needs that swagger to gain respect in this league. Big men who don’t typically fight are always a target for NHL players to show their coaches and fans they are tough. What looks visually better: Taking out an average sized Daniel Carcillo or a larger guy like Brian Boyle? When Jovo tagged BB and busted his lip a few games ago, BB just talked a lot. That is backing down from an established NHL player. THAT was an ‘Earn your respect’ moment and BB backed away. I guarantee you Westgarth would been all over Jovo like white on rice. The swagger is all about the confidence of knowing you can handle yourself in an altercation. That confidence will lead to more fearless play on the ice. (By the way, for those thinking it, the answer is NO! Old Spice is NOT the swagger BB needs)

    3-Spend some time on puck control with Handzus and Frolov. These 2 guys can control a game from behind the net on attack because it’s so rare that they lose a puck. Puck possession is such a critical part of our game and for BB to be effective, he needs to use his body to control the tempo of his shifts. As a center, he should dictate the pace of play in the O-Zone, not have it dictated to him by the D-men against him.

    Brian Boyle still has HUGE upside. It’s all elementary now. He knows exactly what he needs to do to be an NHLer. If he wants it, it’s all up to him and no one else at this point. He has the tools to be a dominate center in this league. He just needs to figure out if this is really what he wants in life. If his heart is not in it, he needs to step aside or be pushed aside. I think he wants it, it’s just a confidence thing.

    ALL SUMMER BRIAN! WORK HARD ALL SUMMER!

  • Quisp

    The other thing for everyone to remember re Boyle is that he will only be waiver-exempt for another 34 games (or until April 2010, whichever comes first). So if he has another season just like this one, he can bounce up and down from Manchester without having to go through waivers. But next year would be it for him, waiver-wise. And there’s no way DL will ever put him through waivers, since he’ll get claimed.

    I say sign him to a two-year deal and let him prove himself. Trade him this time next year if he’s not in our plans.

  • deadcatbounce

    Sign him for one more go. What if they let him go and, say, some team like Boston picks him up? What if feels more comfortable playing at home and develops into the player that TM was hoping for back there? What if you put Chara and Boyle on the ice at the same time???

  • TB

    Its a unique issue with Boyle and the Kings…he’s a center and the Kings have a glut of centers who are in that 2nd to third tier of talent and pretty much all of them are known for their skill rather than physical play. Its completely understandable how Boyle has been typecast into the role of physical centerman. We need one. I agree that he needs to be given one more shot, but I also agree that he isn’t physical enough. If its not his style, then he needs to make it his style. In the NHL, when you are big, that’s your best asset. Like it or not…as DL says, if you aren’t going to be the guy, we’ll find someone who will be. To his credit though, he has shown an excellent willingness to learn and accept the challenge given to him. Kudos for being a professional off the ice…now if we can just fix the on ice part of it.

  • Smitty

    I agree with signing Boyle for 1 year. See what he does early in the season on the 2nd or 3rd line with some good playmakers and we’ll see some more goals from the tall guy. Last season, he showed he could play when he had 5 pts in 8 games for the Kings. I think this year was more of a 2nd yr freshman slump. They started him out playing with Ivanans and whoever else it was on the 4th line, so he wasn’t on a scoring line. If he continues to disappear this next season, use him as trade bait, and get something in return. Teams will want this guy. Still young, tall, can move the puck well, shoots well and will make some big hits here and there. Maybe even try him with Handzus and Simmonds.

  • AK47

    Brian Boyle is a Los Angeles King next year, so is Jack Johnson and Alexander Frolov..

    oh and Marian Gaborik :)

  • Sam

    Anybody who is high on letting Boyle go is crazy. He’s been winning his fair share of puck battles and has a high amount of skill. I think too often people see large men playing hockey and expect them to be rough-and-tumble. If Boyle was 6’1″ and not 6’7″ I think people would be much happier with him. That said he needs to take advantage of his attributes and use his size better. Give him a one or two year offer, its crazy NOT to. His numbers in the AHL are irrelevant.

  • Brooklyn King

    It’s a no brainer to resign an RFA of his ilk. Huge, soft hand, and isn’t finished developing. He has most of the tools you’re looking for in a big forward, and since he’s had a little sandpaper taken to him this season, he’s starting to play with more urgency. It would be a poor decision by management to not give this guy a look at camp next fall.

  • Ersberg

    He could very well be a late bloomer. Keep him for another season, then we’ll talk again.

  • BakoCAcameraGuy

    I agree with Cynic: BB has upside, needs to swagger, this is his last chance. I do not agree that he is out of position; it’s all about PREPARATION.

    Brian Boyle has not prepared himself adequately to succeed. The ones I wish he would hang out with are Williams and Simmonds. Williams KNOWS what it takes, and has been there before. Simmonds knows what he WANTS, and will do everything legally admissible to GET what he wants.

    If BB does not know what he wants to achieve by now, he never will. I think of the ‘stache with the Ducks, George Parros. Coming out of Princeton, he figured out what he needed to do to stick in the NHL–what he needed to do was to learn to fight; what he wanted was to stick in the NHL. BB has been told what to do. He has to commit to PREPARE to be able to do that job. Does BB want to stick in the NHL? The jury is still out. Does he have the talent? Yes. Will he prepare? We will find out, soon enough.

  • Marc Nathan

    Hey, compared to Hugh Jessiman, Boyle is a stud!

  • David

    Are the Kings missing the forest through the trees? Speaking of trees, let’s talk about Brian Boyle.

    Last year the Kings tried to convert Brian into a defenseman. He went along with their plan and played half the season in Manchester on D.

    Why not move him from his current center position to left wing? He certainly has the size and could do some damage in the corners to opposing defensemen. Kopi & Brownie seem to think the Kings need help on left wing, so why not give Boyle a shot?

    If he stays healthy and plays on a decent line (Boyle, Stoll & Purcell) and for a decent coach, who didn’t shuffle lines like a crazed black-jack dealer in Las Vegas, I see no reason why he couldn’t score 25 goals or more next year.

  • Duckhunter

    Cynic,

    Outstanding evaluation.

    If I may add a little. I know you are all hockey freaks but bear with me on my solutions for Boyle. What Boyle needs is what they call contact conditioning(football shape) or rounds in a boxing gym. Have you guys ever seen a single football player in the center of a circle being hit by others from all different directions. Yes, this drill is done for vision, technique and cardio, but it’s also done to train the body for contact. As anything, the body adapts and learns to absorb the concussion of the blow with less discomfort. Soon you’re taking the hits and looking for more.

    Boxing gym can do the same thing. This could be a double positive for Boyle. Learn how to absorb contact, as you’re learning how to throw left and rights without thinking or hesitation.

    If Boyle could do something like this for an hour a day instead of the stairmaster it will raise his confidence level threw the roof. Boyle is one of those individuals who brain isn’t conditioned for toughness so you have to go the other way and toughen up his body to convince his brain.

    If Boyle can condition himself to focus on the puck and positioning instead of the fear of contact he can become unstoppable.

  • tull skull

    I think they should sign him and then trade him because he will never be what the Kings want. They don’t want the finesse player that he is wired as, so let him go somewhere else, but at least try and get something for him!
    I think he skates well for his size and the phrase “agility” is just not going to be used for someone that is 6’7.
    The Kings have jerked him around enough.
    Inconsistency, on the other hand is unacceptable at any pro level.

  • variable

    cynic…

    yeah…good evaluation…and great suggestions…

    maybe the players SHOULD read the opinions on this site…!

    lol…

  • Cynic

    Thanks DH.

    Your point is well taken too. I think you’re on to something when you mention that BB is not conditioned mentally for aggressive contact. I don’t believe he was ever brought up to be an aggressive style player and now suddenly, that is the expectation. I really see Boyle trying hard to overcome that mental block as well. His actions in being aggressive are not instinctual, but reactionary. He has to think about it before he does it. When it comes to his hands and moves to the net (As he showed in his last few games), there is no hesitation. I notice a slight delayed reaction when it comes to fisticuffs or just being the initiator on contact. He’s trying, but I think your idea of contact conditioning would do wonders for that mental side of his game.

    Never thought of it that way, but I think that’s a seriously good solution for him. Maybe Rich could mention the idea to the trainers at HealthSouth?

  • Dan H.

    A couple of times the past couple of weeks this guy has put the shoulder down and gone to the front of the net with the puck. One went in, another one he beat the goalie but lost the handle on the puck, the other one, and most memorable was him shrugging Cammaleri like the fly he is and driving the 2-1 that gave up a good scoring chance.

    The guy has the will to go to the net. He’s just not going to be a huge pounder.

  • anthonyy

    Marc Nathan,
    Don’t you mean Huge Specimen.

  • number 6

    DH and Bako you guys make real good points re Boyle. What I find interesting is I remember very well after the 2003 draft EJ Hradek on the nhl.com site broke down all of the first round selections. He said he didn’t like the Kings selection principally because he had heard from several teams that Boyle didn’t interview well. It seems we can see that now.
    Also the Hockey News said about him before the draft that it’s one thing to carry three guys on your back and score a goal in USHS but doesn’t mean that will translate to the NHL.

    I hope he develops into what we want him to be, but it’s no surprise that so far he’s struggled, and I don’t think it’s simply because DL and TM want him to be something else. They are probably seeing the same things the teams referred to above saw at an earlier stage, while DT’s administration thought it was a worthwhile gamble as a “project”. Perhaps, but that one still hurts considering that Corey Perry, Patrice Bergeron, Shea Weber and David Backes to name a few were chosen in the picks that came within the next 15-20 players chosen after Boyle. That was the sort of thing that left me wondering.

  • number 6

    Oh, and I forgot Loui Erickson.

  • jet

    He still makes rookie mistakes, but he is a rookie. The effort has improved. The defense has improved. Murray likes to be big up the middle. Let’s see if he can earn a full year.

  • brianguy

    Grade: “incomplete” – but I love what he did at the end of the season, and I believe the Kings do too.

  • simorasa

    I’d think by next week Boyle would have already forgotten what Lombardi/Hextall/Murray want him to do on the ice.

  • paul Henry

    Boyle needs to study some Joel Otto footage.

  • nykingfan

    Paul Henry nailed it…he needs to be a Joel Otto type player.
    If Boyle isn’t playing big and with an edge he’s as uselss as you or I on the ice.
    If he can’t understand that and make the necessary changes to his game..and do it on a consistent basis, he’s better off taking up space in someone else’s organization.
    Having said that..I hope he does get it and becomes a productive member on the Kings…You can’t teach size…especially 6’7″ with talent

  • JimE

    I really don’t get the love for this guy. He’s not a waste but if you want to talk about players who are getting it at the NHL level I’ll take Wayne Simmonds any day. I don’t know if it’s the “direction” hasn’t changed but either Boyle’s not making the same commitment or he’s definitely a laaaaaaaaaaaate bloomer.

  • wisconsinKingsfan

    Some may say that Frolov was the biggest enigma but I think Boyle was. You just know he can play better but wasn’t. Maybe it was the lines he was on but I don’t buy that argument. The best players make the players around them better. However, I do think that he might deserve another chance because he did show improvement toward the end of the season.

  • Bring Back the Shield Jersey

    I would hope that next year Brian Boyle could surprise us as much as Susan Boyle will you. Go check her out on YouTube.

  • brianguy

    lol @ Susan Boyle