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.