No question, the Rangers made a huge splash this summer with the acquisition of Rick Nash. Thanks to the move the Rangers find themselves with more (legitimate) elite talent than they have had in well over a decade but at some stage even top line players need offensive support. Even the dominant Edmonton Oilers of the 1980’s had role players step up when needed.
With the loss of Brandon Dubinsky and Artem Anisimov the Rangers lost two core role players. They lost two home grown Rangers that proved they had offensive ability, even if they lacked consistency. Unfortunately you have to give to receive. With those two gone however, it offers a bigger chance for another player or two to step up. Forget Callahan, Stepan and Kreider. All three could be needed in the top six and will be counted on to various degrees.
The opportunity that presents itself is a perfect chance for Brian Boyle to reassert himself as a critical piece in the Rangers line up. Boyle needs a good season. While he came on toward the end of last year, offensively he wasn’t as effective as he was during his breakout season a year prior.
Despite continuing in his role as a defensively reliable player Boyle will need to offer more up the other end of the ice given the Rangers’ up and coming array of centers in the system such as Steven Fogarty, Mike St Croix and Oscar Lindberg. Each offers legitimate NHL potential either as an offensive player or as a checking center while offering the benefit of significant cap savings as opposed to Boyle.
That all said Boyle can be a unique player. When he chooses to use his considerable frame to his advantage it is hard to stop him and he has the ability to be a difference maker both ends of the ice. Boyle is the club’s third choice center but this role should offer plenty of offensive possibilities this coming season.
Boyle could start the season with the likes of Carl Hagelin and Ryan Callahan or when Gaborik returns from injury Boyle may find himself centering Chris Kreider. Assuming Boyle starts on the third, there won’t be a shortage of offensive ability on his line. With Anisimov and Dubinsky gone, there is ice time to take advantage of while the presence of Nash and co. in the top six could open up numerous, advantageous match ups for the Rangers third line. In short, there is the chance for Boyle to step up offensively. Thanks to the Rangers prospects en route, he may need to.