What does the Boyle trade mean for the Rangers and Zuccarello

USA Today

In a recent flurry of moves, the Rangers are still set to continue their sell off. There was a major deal made to kick off trade season in the form of the Jake Muzzin deal that sent him from LA to Toronto for a boatload of picks and prospects. Also news came out of Nashville that they would be acquiring the beloved Brian Boyle from the Devils for a second round pick in the 2019 draft.

Before I discuss this trade and the impact it will have on the inevitable Zuccarello move, let’s give Jeff Gorton a quick shout out. Somehow the magician that is Jeff Gorton was able to flip part time 4th liner, Cody McLeod for a 2020 7th round pick. However this is not a post about that trade, but as mentioned before the inevitable Mats Zuccarello deal, and how Boyle’s return may impact it.

Let me start off by saying this; I am not bashing Boyle in any way, just simply using him as a mere comparison. Brian Boyle, who is beloved not only by every team he plays for but the entire league, was traded to Nashville for a 2nd round pick. Boyle’s veteran presence, playoff experience, and play as a bottom-6 forward have been recognized over the last number of years.

He is a wonderful piece to have on a big time contender such as the Preds for all of those reasons. As mentioned in a previous post, the Preds are one of my “Big 4 Contenders” this year, and this move just adds to that. The return for Boyle was a great swing by Devils GM Ray Shearo. An aging player on an expiring contract, as a rental getting a second round pick is an incredible return. So that brings up the question…..how does this impact the potential return for Mats Zuccarello?

First of all, both Boyle and Zuccarello will be UFAs on July 1 of this year, but Boyle is 34, while Zuccarello is 31. Now let’s look at numbers, because as we all know, numbers never lie. Dating back to the 2013-14 season with the Rangers up until this season, Boyle’s point totals are as such:  18, 24, 20, 22, 3, 23, and currently has 19 this year. Since the 2013-14 season up until this season, Zuccarello’s point totals are as such: 59, 49, 61, 59, 53, and currently has 30 this year.

I don’t even think there is a conversation about who the better hockey player is between the two throughout their careers, but for the sake of playing devil’s advocate here, we will just compare the two this season because when a rental is traded for, teams look more closely at the seasons the players are having that year.

The 31-year-old Norwegian had a very rocky start to the season. He was not compiling many points, and eventually getting hurt missing a number of games. It was looking like a lost season for the fan favorite Zuccarello. When he returned, he still struggled a bit, but over the last month, he has been on a tear to say the least. He was brought up to the first line to play with Zibanejad and Kreider. They have been a top-10 line in all of hockey over the course of that time. They are compiling points at a ridiculous rate, helping the Rangers get (unnecessary and harmful) points.

Since the Rangers played in Vegas on January 8th, Zuccarello has compiled 16 points in those 11 games, and that line, as mentioned before, has been incredible. This recent tear has brought Zuccarello to 30 points in 39 games on the year; that’s a .77 point per game rate, and puts him on an 82-game pace of 63 points….the Zuccarello we all know and love.

A few days ago I tweeted my final thoughts on the deadline deals for Hayes, Zucc, and McQuaid.

https://twitter.com/JvCx7/status/1092827175533903874

I said that I think Calgary eventually ponies up their first round pick for him. In my opinion, he is a terrific fit there. They are playing incredible hockey led by American phenom “Johnny Hockey”, Elias Lindholm, and “The Beast” as I like to call him, Matthew Tkachuk. I personally think that the Flames are a serious contender in the wide open west. My “Big 4 Teams” are the Preds, Jets, Bolts, and Leafs, but if the Flames continue to play this well and add a player of Zuccarello’s caliber to play in their middle-6, they will be right up there (if they aren’t already) with those other clubs.

All in all between Zucc’s recent resurgence and the market starting to be set with the Boyle deal of getting a 2nd round pick, I think that number 36 is skating in his final games on Broadway, but will bring the Rangers back a first round pick from the Calgary Flames.

P.S. – Since the line of Zibanejad-Zuccarello-Kreider has been put together, they have been a top-10 line in all of hockey as mentioned before. I would not be opposed to the idea of the Rangers bringing him back on July 1 for about 3 years at an AAV of $3 million.

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