Numbers Game: Sharks Acquire Boyle

Scott Cullen
7/4/2008 5:43:31 PM
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After losing in the second round of the playoffs, then losing prime trade deadline addition Brian Campbell in free agency, the San Jose Sharks went all out in their efforts to bolster their defence.

Numbers Game examines the blockbuster defence trade between San Jose and Tampa Bay.

The Sharks Get: D Dan Boyle, D Brad Lukowich.

Boyle, soon to be 32, is coming off the worst season of his pro career. 

First, it started with suffering a severed tendon in his wrist from a falling skate in the dressing room, causing him to miss nine games.  Then he tried to come back too soon, was completely ineffective for four games before undergoing surgery and then missed another 36 games while recovering.

At that point, Boyle returned to a team in a tailspin and his minus-29 (in only 37 games!) was the worst mark on the league's worst team and the worst among all NHL defencemen.

While no one will confuse the 5-foot-11, 190-pound Boyle with a shutdown defensive player, as he's only had two plus seasons in his career, last season's defensive woes were well out of the norm for him. 

Acquiring Boyle comes with a certain trade off, as his mobility and puck skills are what make him a special player -- a defenceman who has topped 50 points in three of his last five seasons (and had 29 points in 37 games last season). 

Naturally, Boyle's skills make him a great asset on the power play and, with Brian Campbell leaving via free agency, it's easy to see that the Sharks are hoping Boyle can fill the role that Campbell played so successfully down the stretch last season.

Joining what should be a potent Sharks attack, Boyle could be good for 50-plus points next season, but he has six years and $40-million remaining on his deal. 

What are the odds that his skating and ability to handle the puck will offset his lack of size and strength in the defensive zone when he's 35?  The Sharks had better hope that's possible, or else the last few years of this contract could be hard to swallow.

Lukowich is a 31-year-old stay-at-home defenceman who was a career-worst minus-14 in Tampa Bay last season, but has enjoyed some career sucess in a defensive role, twice posting a plus-minus better than plus-25 despite never scoring more than 19 points in a single season.

At this point, Lukowich is a solid veteran depth option for Sharks and is under contract for two more years at a total cost of $3.45-million.

The Lightning Get: D Matt Carle, D Ty Wishart and first-round pick in 2009 and a fourth-round pick in 2010.

Carle was one of the league's most promising young defenceman after scoring 42 points in 77 games in 2006-2007 before dramatically falling off in 2007-2008 and finishing with 15 points and a minus-8 rating in 62 games.

The 2006 Hobey Baker Award Winner as the top player in U.S. College Hockey, 23-year-old Carle was naturally a target for new Lightning owner Oren Koules, who knows the Carle family and drafted Matt's younger brother David last month even though a heart defect forced David Carle to withdraw from draft consideration.

In many ways, Carle plays the same kind of game as Boyle.  Both are excellent skaters who handle the puck well and jump into the rush frequently and both don't have strength or attention to detail in their own end.  So, getting a guy who is nine years younger at a cheaper price might have even made a one-for-one deal reasonable.

Wishart, the 16th overall pick in the 2006 draft, is a top blueline prosect, coming off a junior season in which he tallied 67 points and a plus-7 rating in 72 games in the Western Hockey League.

The 20-year-old is 6-foot-4 and could still learn to use his size better (and more frequently) but, after some time on the farm, he could be a nice long-term fixture on the Lightning blueline.

Not only that, the Lightning also add a first-round pick and a fourth-round pick in the deal.

Assuming that the Sharks will be among the top teams in the league next year, a first-round pick should fall in the 25-30 range where, since 1997, the likes of Brenden Morrow, Mike Van Ryn, Scott Gomez, Jonathan Cheechoo, Martin Havlat, Justin Williams, Niklas Kronwall, Cam Ward, Corey Perry, Mike Green, Andrew Cogliano and Matt Niskanen are among the most accomplished NHLers.

The fourth-round pick has some additional value, though in the ten-year span from 1997-2006, approximately a dozen players taken in the second half of the fourth round have become NHL regulars, so it's a real roll of the dice.

In simple terms of player value alone, the Lightning may emerge with the better end of the trade because Carle has potential to be the best player in the deal, but when draft picks and financial considerations are weighed into the equation, the Lightning did a fantastic job getting a lot of value for an asset that was widely known to be on the trade block.

San Jose, perhaps reeling after another premature playoff exit, sure seems to have overpaid in this case, but they have a team geared to win now and they attempted to fix the blueline accordingly rather than waiting to see if Carle could bounced back. 

It's the kind of trade that means that Sharks need to win a Stanley Cup to justify surrendering those assets and taking on those salary commitments.

Scott Cullen can be reached at scullen@tsn.ca

Dan Boyle (Photo: Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)


(Photo: Scott Audette/NHLI via Getty Images)
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