Originally posted on The Rangers Tribune  |  Last updated 6/7/12

Prior to the start of the 2011-12 season, center Brian Boyle had developed himself into a trustworthy and reliable role player for the New York Rangers. His contributions in all areas of the ice built themselves up as the years went by, as did his offensive numbers. Boyle was then handed a $1.7 million contract to re-sign with the Blueshirts last summer when he became a restricted free agent, and since inking that deal things have begun to go downhill for the 27-year-old forward with expectations rising. 

The Good: Boyle brings a lot of intangibles to the New York Rangers that some players don't always have the will to bring. His efforts on the defensive side of the puck are immaculate, especially on the penalty-kill where he is one of New York's top performers. Boyle never hesitates to sell himself out to block a shot or break-up a scoring chance. In that way, he is someone head coach John Tortorella can always count on when defending a lead or when the team is looking to keep a game close. 

Boyle also can be a very effective player on the powerplay when in front of the net. His solid 6-foot-7 frame is not exactly the easiest of bodies to move out of the way when he plants himself at the top of the crease, so he gives the Rangers a slight edge with the man advantage from that standpoint. In addition, Brian has improved his efficiency in the faceoff dot and again is relied on to take key faceoffs late in games when the Rangers need wins off the draw. 

And you cannot neglect to reference his playoff performance this season, in which he recorded three goals in five games during round one against the Ottawa Senators before being concussed by Chris Neil. He never returned to form after that hit, though.

The Bad: Unfortunately for Boyle, he took the path that is and always be frowned upon; smaller contract, more points, bigger contract, fewer points. As noted above, Boyle was given a $1.7 million contract coming off a career year in which he registered 21 goals and 35 points in 2010-11. This set the bar high for 2011-12, but Boyle would end up falling way below that bar with only 11 goals and 26 points. A nine-point drop-off is not what you want to see after nearly a $1 million salary increase. 

Some may argue that what Boyle brings in the other areas of the ice nullifies what he does not on the scoresheet, but personally, I'm not a believer in that philosophy. A player receiving almost $2 million on a yearly basis because they earned such money in prior years should have to continue to earn that money for as long as the contract lasts. Boyle did not earn that money this season. 

Also, his lack of physicality is disturbing considering his size. As far as offense goes, he is not very strong on the puck, he rarely is seen battling in the corners and/or winning those battles for that matter, and he too often pulls back from finishing his checks. This is a big knock on his game that has been noticeable for several years now. 

Highlight of the Year:

 

Overall Assessment: Boyle still has two additional years remaining on his contract here in New York, and I'm sure both sides would love to see him play both of those years out with the Rangers. However, if a package deal is available to improve the team's offense and Boyle's name is somehow included in that offer, I wouldn't be surprised to see him go. He can always be replaced and his lacking offensive production this season certainly burned him. 

Report Card Grade: C

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