Brian MacLellan has said the Caps intend to upgrade their third line this offseason. This is part of our series looking at free agents who the Caps may target.
Today we set our sights on yet another former Toronto Maple Leaf who could fit the Capitals’ plans this summer. Brad Boyes, a veteran of 14 NHL seasons and a former 40-goal scorer is coming off a year in which he made Toronto out of camp on a professional tryout contract after he was bought out by the Florida Panthers. Is he a fit for the Caps? I can already hear the shrieks of “No!” coming from Facebook, but let’s evaluate him before we make a decision.
Courtesy of Own the Puck
Brad Boyes is far from the two-year span (2007-2009) on the St. Louis Blues that saw him play in all 164 games, score 76 goals, and put up 137 points, but in my opinion he is still a player of value and shouldn’t be written off just because he got bought out by the Panthers.
Boyes has struggled with nagging injuries of late, most notably missing time last year due to issues with his shoulder, but he missed only eight games in the three seasons prior. When you look at Boyes’ numbers in his most recent seasons, we can conclude that his point floor as a player in this stage of his career is around 30, and the teams he has played on ranged from league average to god awful. I really don’t think that it is unreasonable for Boyes to see those totals rise to 40 points for a season or two playing next to Marcus Johansson and another piece of the third line that is yet to be determined.
Some of the holes in Boyes’ game include his tendency to be less than stellar defensively, as he can sometimes fall asleep in his own zone, but he has improved that as he has aged. He is another player who isn’t exactly “hard on the puck,” which means that he can get bounced off it if defensive force is applied and he isn’t going to be diving head first into any puck battles in the corners. He also has those shoulder issues I mentioned earlier. That is the type of injury that can linger, especially in older players.
Looking at Boyes’ play style, we see yet another savvy offensive player almost in the exact mold of PA Parenteau. Boyes has great offensive instincts, more of a sniper mentality than Parenteau, but with play-making ability similar to his former Toronto teammate. Boyes is also very good in front of the net; he is one of those players who always seems to come up with the loose puck in a pile of bodies and equipment. He doesn’t have the breakaway speed that he did in the past, but is still an above average skater for his age. One other thing that must be taken into consideration in today’s NHL, however at a much lesser importance level due to the introduction of 3-on-3 overtime, is the shootout. Boyes is easily one of the top 10 players in the league at converting in the skills competition, and he would add to an already filthy Capitals shootout lineup that includes TJ Oshie and Evgeny Kuznetsov. In my opinion, he does fit the more offensive, faster paced third line that the Caps want to build.
For the majority of his career, Boyes has been a solid possession player, but in the last 4 years his numbers have looked especially good. You may remember in Parenteau’s free agent profile that Boyes was mentioned when it came to possession. That is because he was behind only James Van Riemsdyk when it comes to Corsica’s score- and venue-adjusted possession and relative possession on the Leafs. When Boyes plays in a good system, he thrives, unlike some of the Caps third line choices of the past (Chimera, Wilson, Beagle, etc.).
Brad Boyes fits the mold for what the Caps want to do going forward with their third line. Is the the first choice option for one of those spots? Probably not, but the Capitals could do a lot worse. Boyes will not command more than a million dollars, and I think that he would accept another 1-year contract on a team like the Capitals to prove that he still has worth in the NHL. I see Boyes as a buy-low kind of guy, which has become a theme with players leaving Toronto this summer. Their point totals and base-count statistics are going to look worse than what the player’s expected output really is.
Final judgment from CFTC: Yes. Wouldn’t be upset with Boyes.
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