The Rangers are a better team thanks to Dan Boyle and their offseason subtractions
Since July 1st, most sports talks shows, websites and experts had basically knocked the NY Rangers. The losses of Brad Richards, Anton Stralman, Brian Boyle, and Benoit Pouliot are simply too much for them to overcome. We said it back in the summer and we will say it again – NONSENSE!
DAN BOYLE vs. ANTON STRALMAN
While those were significant pieces to last year’s team, they were hardly irreplaceable. In all fairness, the Rangers began their transformation by addressing their need for a PP QB in Dan Boyle. Of course, his signing came at a cost by the name of Anton Stralman.
Don’t get me wrong, Stralman was a solid defensive player for the Rangers but did little to generate any offense. Worse yet, the Rangers were forced to use the regressing Brad Richards on the point. NY’s power play last season was 18.2% in the regular season and an abysmal 12.6% in the playoffs.
This season, the Blueshirt’s power play is operating at a rate of 21.2%. Since December 16th, NY has gone 12 for 31 on the man advantage for a success rate of 38%. A key contributor to the PP’s success has been Dan Boyle, who has 5 PP points during this stretch (1G-4A).
His ability to move the puck quickly, join the the play down low and legit threat of a point shot has given the Rangers a totally new dynamic to their power play. Last year it was well known that Richards had limited mobility and a shot that couldn’t break a pane of glass. Now it’s a whole new dynamic.
Boyle’s injury certainly hampered his production early, but he and the Rangers are moving ahead nicely. His 4 goals and 9 points in 22 games are good for .41 points per game average that is rising. Stralman is also having a solid season with 2 goals and 18 points for a .43 points per game rate.
Here is the key indicator that says it all and will eventually move Boyle way ahead of Stralman on the scoresheet. Dan Boyle is averaging 1.9 shots per game to Stralman’s 1.5 shots. This is significant as more shots generated obviously lead to more scoring chances. Another important factor is 78% of Boyle’s points have come on the power play while only 27% of Stralman’s have.
These stats are exactly what Glen Sather and the Rangers organization were looking for in a defenseman who could QB a PP. Stralman simply wasn’t going to fit that bill. Also, his contract demands were high and longterm. On paper both Boyle and Stralman have the same 4.5 cap hit, but Florida has no State Income Tax. That would’ve meant giving Stralman possibly 20% more to match.
When you look at Marc Staal’s impending contract and those of players like UFA, Mats Zuccarello and RFA Derek Stepan to name just a few. You realize that Boyle’s 2 year deal fits this team for today and the future better than an average stay at home defenseman like Stralman.
KEVIN HAYES vs. BRAD RICHARDS
Brad Richards would actually be a really good fit as a 3rd line center for this team. Unfortunately his contract was simply intolerable going forward. Kevin Hayes has basically taken his role and done an admirable job as a rookie.
Hayes has 5 goals and 15 points in 35 games for a points per game average of .43% on the NYR 3rd line. Richards who makes 1.1M more and is in the twilight of his career is at .63 on a high powered Blackhawks team’s 2nd line.
Today it’s obvious Brad may have been a better fit but Kevin Hayes’ future is bright for both he and the Rangers.
LEE STEMNIAK vs. BENOIT POULIOT
This one is the easiest one of the bunch. It goes like this, Benoit Pouliot makes 4M dollars a year and Stempniak makes 900K. Pouliot has 4 goals and 9 points this season with an average points per game of .39. Stempniak has 6 goals and 14 points with a .44 points per game rate.
Clear cut win.
JT MILLER vs BRIAN BOYLE
First off, let me say I was a huge fan of what Brian Boyle brought to the Rangers. He was a tenacious checker with decent speed. His ability to kill penalties, block shots and most importantly win draws are still hard to replace.
However, he was looking for a larger role and more money and NY had to consider the longterm health of the franchise. Brian signed in the neighborhood of 2M but again, in Florida there is no State Income Tax so the Rangers would’ve had to offer more to match.
As JT Miller has started to cement himself as a 4th line winger, he is bringing more speed and offensive prowess than Boyle ever could. Boyle is averaging .26 points per game which pales in comparison to Miller’s .55 average.
Of course, the luxury of having Brian Boyle on the PK and face-off circle doesn’t make this one a clear cut decision. We know longterm that JT Miller can be a top 6 forward, but for today Boyle could have certainly helped.
We can call this one even for now.