Can Dan Boyle Aid Rangers Ailing Power Play?

Dan Boyle will help lead the rush up ice in NY this season. (Shaughn Butts /Edmonton Journal)

Dan Boyle will help lead the rush up ice in NY this season. (Shaughn Butts /Edmonton Journal)

Dan Boyle and the Rangers’ power play…perfect together?

That’s the question all Rangers fans hope will be answered with a resounding “yes” when the puck drops on the 2014-15 season. Boyle, signed as a free agent on July 1, let it be known that he desired to be a Ranger and the Blueshirts were more than willing to accommodate the decorated veteran defenseman, whose rights were held by the Islanders. Now the question is whether or not the soon-to-be 38-year-old blueliner has enough left in the tank to help the Rangers’ ailing power play and push them toward another run to the Stanley Cup.

When the NHL free agent signing period opened for business on July 1, the Rangers found themselves shopping for a rearguard who could fill a potential void on the blueline with what appeared to be the imminent departure of Anton Stralman (signed later the same day by Tampa Bay). What they got was an added bonus in Boyle, who should not only seamlessly slide into the lineup as a second-pair defender alongside Marc Staal but should also provide a much-needed boost to the Blueshirts’ mediocre (at best) power play.

It is no secret that Boyle, who will turn 38 on July 12, had the Rangers at the top of his wish list when the free agent signing period kicked off. He even turned down more lucrative offers to sign a two-year, $9 million dollar deal to come to Broadway where he will be reunited with former Tampa Bay Lightning teammate Martin St. Louis. The pair were an integral part of the Lightning’s run to the Stanley Cup in 2004. Boyle also won a gold medal as part of Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics in Vancouver.

Now Boyle brings his big shot and winning pedigree to Madison Square Garden, where his leadership and experience should prove invaluable to the likes of Norris Trophy hopeful Ryan McDonagh. That big shot and offensive prowess on the blueline has allowed Boyle to record 50 or more points in six of his 15 NHL seasons. Last year for San Jose, he scored 12 goals and added 24 assists in 75 games. Six of those 12 goals came on the power play.

Boyle, who began his career with the Florida Panthers as an undrafted free agent in 1998 out of Miami (Ohio) University, may no longer be able to play the minutes that the younger Stralman did, but he certainly should help jump-start a power play that finished in the middle of the pack (15th overall) during the regular season and was at times dreadful in the postseason. “Dan is going to bring experience, and help us on the power play,” Rangers head coach Alain Vigneault told the media shortly after the Boyle signing. “We’re really happy to have him come on board.”

Boyle will enter his 16th NHL season with 66 career power plays goals and his savvy on the blueline with the man-advantage gives the Blueshirts a true quarterback for the first time in recent memory (taking over the role from the departed Brad Richards). He and McDonagh should form one of the top blueline power-play pairings in the league and make forwards like Chris Kreider, St. Louis, Mats Zuccarello, Rick Nash, Carl Hagelin and Derek Stepan all that more dangerous below the hash marks.

If all goes according to plan, Boyle’s presence may in fact, have the Ranger faithful at MSG actually looking forward to watching their team skate with the man advantage instead of wondering whether or not they should have declined the penalty.

Only time will tell.

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