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Penguins Add Big Brian Boyle, Matt Bartkowski on PTOs; Full Analysis

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Pittsburgh Penguins, Brian Boyle

The Pittsburgh Penguins added some size and grit to their training camp in hopes of adding that to their lineup this season. Before the holiday weekend officially began, the Penguins added big center Brian Boyle and defenseman Matt Bartkowski on professional tryout agreements.

The Penguins have not yet announced training camp schedules, but their preseason begins Sept. 27 against Columbus.

Boyle, 36, did not play last season. He is a cancer survivor–on Sept. 9, 2017, doctors diagnosed Boyle with chronic myeloid leukemia. He was in remission by early 2018.

In his most recent NHL season, 2019-20, Boyle scored 15 points (6-9-15) in 39 games for the Florida Panthers. The 6-foot-6 center plays a hard, physical game and could fill the Penguins’ need for a fourth-line center if Evgeni Malkin is out of the lineup. In 12 NHL seasons, Boyle has 130 goals, 101 assists, 231 points, and 588 penalty minutes in 805 games.

Boyle captained Team USA to the 2021 World Championships bronze medal.

In 118 career playoff games, he has 16 goals, 15 assists, and 31 points. He appeared in the Stanley Cup Final with the Rangers in 2014 and the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2015.

Boyle has played for the Los Angeles Kings, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Toronto Maple Leafs, New Jersey Devils, Nashville Predators, and Florida Panthers.

Hockey writers designated Boyle as the 2018 Bill Masterton Trophy winner, awarded to the player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship, and dedication to hockey, following his cancer diagnosis. Boyle also made the 2018 All-Star Game.

Pittsburgh Penguins, PTO: Matt Bartkowski

Barkowski, 33, is a journeyman defenseman who spent most of last season with the Minnesota Wild organization and the Wild practice squad. He played just one NHL game and 23 in the AHL.

Bartkowski is a Mt. Lebanon High School grad. With the Wild’s AHL affiliate in Iowa, the left-handed defenseman scored eight points (1-7-8) in 23 games. His eight points tied for second-most among team defensemen.

The 6-foot-1, 201-pound Bartkowski played parts of 11 seasons in the NHL with the Boston Bruins, Vancouver Canucks, Calgary Flames, and Minnesota. In 256 career regular-season games, he’s notched eight goals, 40 assists, and 48 points. He has 20 games of Stanley Cup Playoff experience where he’s picked up three points (1-2-3).

Bartkowski, 33, has recorded 20 goals, 104 assists, and 124 points in 357 games at the AHL level with the Providence Bruins and Iowa Wild.

PHN, Pittsburgh Penguins Analysis:

Boyle is an intriguing signing. The big man can bring some jam and size into the Penguins lineup, but he’ll have to prove he can play the Penguins game. He’s a leader and a player who commands respect in the locker room, too.

Even after Malkin returns from knee surgery, Boyle could stick in the Penguins lineup.

Or a year off could be too much to overcome for the 36-year-old.

Bartkowski’s signing is pure depth. He won’t supplant either Chad Ruhwedel or Mark Friedman on the depth chart, but he could be a great mentor to P.O. Joseph in Wilkes-Barre/Scranton.

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Pittsburgh Hockey Now Editor-in-Chief, formerly 93.7 The Fan, Sportsnet Hockey Tonight, NHL Home Ice. Catch Dan tweeting @theDanKingerski and the official @pghhockeynow account.

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Ed Ocepek
Ed Ocepek
21 days ago

I always liked Brian Boyle hard work and a good locker room guy as well

Jay95
Jay95
21 days ago

Love taking a chance on Boyle. He’s always been an underrated middle/bottom 6 player. Hopefully he’s still got it after the year off.

Cal
Cal
21 days ago
Reply to  Jay95

Agree Jay. Let’s hope the big man wo out for the team!

Cal
Cal
21 days ago
Reply to  Cal

* works out

DaGama
DaGama
20 days ago

Would love to see BB battle in one more NHL campaign. If it happens with the Pens even better.

Nicholas White
Nicholas White
20 days ago

Im really hoping Boyle has some gas left in the tank, if he does he would be a good fit. The Pens need a 4th line center, and he also checks the box for adding a big guy. He is not the best fighter, but he will stick up for teammates, which is something the Pens always lack. My only concern is hes getting up there in age and just had an entire year off, so hopefully he has something left and can make the team. .

Stephen Powanda
Stephen Powanda
20 days ago

I have always been a fan of Boyle. He would be ideal as our 4th line center and Barkowski could be good for WBS or backup for Pens. They need to move on from Rikola!

Ed Andrews
Ed Andrews
20 days ago

I remmeber pushing for this guy he is one of nicest player i have met, and he can bring it yes he has been thru alot and has come out ontop, so i am glad he has a chance to play with the Pens – he is a really good player – Classy move by Hexy

Justin
Justin
20 days ago

I like the Boyle signing a lot, I really hope he has some gas left in the tank (and that Sullivan is willing to put him in the lineup). He could be the perfect combo of size and grit to be the 4th line center, kill penalties and possibly be a bet front presence on the 2nd pp.

jack burton
jack burton
20 days ago

So another “I hope he has enough gas in the tank” signing. I think we can fast forward from the future is now thinking. Just admit it and lets agree it is time to do a rebuild. The glory days are gone and as great as Sid is, his back has got to be hurting for carrying a team this long. Geno is an enigma so much potential and a couple of really great playoff runs about a decade ago but has spent about as much time out as in and has not showed a glimmer of the player he… Read more »

Nick
Nick
20 days ago

Love the Boyle signing, low risk potentially higher reward. I’m hopeful the year off might have helped him heal up some bumps and bruises. I’m OK that he’s a bit long in the tooth since his minutes should be limited.

Frank
Frank
20 days ago

I am guessing Boyle did not “retire” as much last season as he more likely elected not to play in a Covid world due to a compromised immune system resulting from his bout with cancer. If Hextall feels he can help as a band aid for the upcoming season I am crossing my fingers that a 36 year old guy more than a year removed from play is truthfully interested in the physical nature of the game today and can hold up. Time will tell. But considering Hextall has no real options he is willing to look at then this… Read more »

Rob
Rob
20 days ago

Maybe they will make the team, we will see. Training camp is only a few weeks away!

As far as I am concerned, everyone poo-pooing on the Penguins can go watch the islanders! GO PENS!

Penguinfan
Penguinfan
19 days ago

Why not? If he looks good in camp great if not no contract no loss. I assume the 1st rounders won’t be traded as easily now.

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[…] line-up. It would be Boyle’s eighth NHL team if he makes it. Dan Kingerski gives us the deets on the arrangement and the spec’s on the players with Pittsburgh Hockey Now. There are a couple dozen other UFA’s hanging around out there that […]

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[…] The Pittsburgh Penguins have invited two NHL veterans – forward Brian Boyle and defenseman Matt Bartkowski – to training camp on […]

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