Connect with us


Could Boyle End Up Back With Penguins?



Pittsburgh Penguins, Brian Boyle

Brian Boyle had a pretty nice run with the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2021-22.

Especially for a guy who reported to training camp on a tryout contract, with no guarantee of anything except an opportunity.

Which he got.

And exploited.

To the fullest.

Boyle gave the Penguins a nice return on the $750,000 contract he earned during the preseason. He was a solid bottom-six forward and penalty-killer, and even chipped in with 11 goals.

But he is 37 years old and isn’t getting any faster as he ages, so it was no surprise that the Penguins didn’t re-sign him when his deal expired earlier this month.

Not yet, anyway.

Boyle does, however, hope to continue playing, and there is some sentiment among his acquaintances that a return to the Pittsburgh Penguins isn’t out of the question.

And while there are numerous reasons to believe that it’s not going to happen — the Penguins already are a bit above the salary-cap ceiling and have a surplus of bottom-six forwards — Boyle earned a lot of respect from his co-workers with his performance and professionalism last season, so perhaps the idea shouldn’t be dismissed entirely.

*** Remember when the Florida Panthers were about as relevant as a snowplow in the greater Miami-Fort Lauderdale area? And even less so everywhere else?

Well, the team’s management has moved aggressively in recent years to assemble a championship-caliber roster, and put together one good enough to win the Presidents’ Trophy in 2021-22.

Losing to arch-rival Tampa Bay in Round 2 of the Stanley Cup playoffs appears to have only inspired the front office to renew its efforts, as evidenced by its aggressive pursuit of Matthew Tkachuk, who had made it known that he didn’t plan to sign another contract in Calgary.

The Panthers certainly paid a steep price — forward Jonathan Huberdeau, defenseman MacKenzie Weegar, prospect Cole Schwindt and a lottery-protected first-round draft choice in 2025 — for Tkachuk, but it reinforced the idea that they will not hesitate to make any move they believe will enhance their chances of winning a Cup.

At least one aspect of Florida’s pursuit of a title will be familiar to Penguins partisans: Florida already has traded away its first-round selection in each of the next three drafts (assuming the Panthers don’t qualify for the lottery in 2024-25).

*** Mike Vellucci might be closing in on the NHL record for near-misses by an assistant coach.

He seemed to be in the mix for almost every head-coaching job that was open around the NHL this summer, but never quite cleared the final hurdle to get hired. His most recent close call came last week, when San Jose opted to hire former New York Rangers coach David Quinn to replace one-time Penguins defenseman Bob Boughner.

The twist there is that, had the Sharks decided to hire Vellucci, his replacement with the Pittsburgh Penguins might well have been Quinn, a close friend of Mike Sullivan.

In any case, it’s clear that they should anticipate having to replace Vellucci at some point, because it’s hard to imagine that he isn’t going to end up on top of some club’s coaching wish list after coming close so many times.