Mar 28 2013; Ottawa, ON, CAN; New York Rangers centre Brian Boyle (22) during wamup prior to game against the Ottawa Senators at Scotiabank Place. Mandatory Credit: Marc DesRosiers-USA TODAY Sports

Free Agency Lookahead: Canadiens and Brian Boyle

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Jun 27, 2013; New York, NY, USA; Montreal Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin arrives at the Westin Hotel for the NHL Board of Governors meeting. Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports

This may taste bad going down seeing as he was on the team that knocked them out of the East Final, but should the Canadiens entertain the idea of going after potential UFA Brian Boyle?

The Canadiens are knocking on the door. Yes. Some things do need to fall into place in order to grab glory, and there needs to be improvement. So while on the subject… every team needs a strong 4th line.

When the Anaheim Ducks won the Stanley Cup in 2007, they had arguably the best 4th line I have ever seen. The line consisted of Sammy Pahlsson, Rob Niedermayer and Travis Moen. Yes, Travis Moen. Every time I talk about 4th lines, that is the one I reference. The three of them together were a dominant shutdown line that played an invaluable role in the Ducks’ Cup win. Recent Cup-winning teams like the L.A. Kings and the Boston Bruins each had solid bottom trios. Mike Richards, Trevor Lewis and Kyle Clifford made the Kings’ 4th line this year toward the end, and Gregory Campbell, Shawn Thornton and Chris Kelly rounded out the Bruins’ 4th line in the year they won the cup. These lines were highlights of their teams’ Cup runs. 

Now, the Canadiens have their top 3 centres covered between David Desharnais, Tomas Plekanec, Lars Eller and possibly Alex Galchenyuk. Brian Boyle may be a nice fit as the Habs’ 4th-line centre.

Boyle, who is set to become a UFA on July 1st, scored 6 goals in 82 games last season and added 12 helpers. His most productive campaign was 2010-11 when he scored 21 goals and 35 points in 82 games, which shows he does have skill. Last season he averaged under 13 minutes of ice time per game. His salary was 1.8M and I do not think he could command anything upwards of 2.5M on the open market. Somewhere between 2M and 2.5M may be a slightly high price to pay for a designated 4th-line driver, but if it works who will be complaining? Plus, he is 6’7″, 244 and was Brandon Prust’s road roommate when they were both on the Rangers. This is all assuming that Boyle and Rangers do not reach an agreement prior to July 1st.

Another player for the Canadiens to consider is UFA Steve Ott.

Feb 3, 2014; Buffalo, NY, USA; Edmonton Oilers center Boyd Gordon (27) and Buffalo Sabres center Steve Ott (9) during the game at First Niagara Center. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports

He is a proven veteran who was the league’s 10th biggest hitter last season with 246 hits in 82 games split between Buffalo and St. Louis. He was also the Sabres captain. His signing could come at a higher price though after three seasons that saw him paid 3.2M per.

Both Boyle and Ott have proven to be valuable to their teams, and are both gritty as they come while still demonstrating skill. They are also both character players and are both employable on the penalty kill. This does not mean I am sold on the idea and would show either of them the dotted line. It is simply food for thought, as much will be taken into consideration by Marc Bergevin in the coming weeks.

What do you think?  

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