Islanders Summer Report Card: Eric Boulton
Jan 31, 2013; Newark, NJ, USA; New York Islanders left wingEric Boulton
(36) and New Jersey Devils right wingKrys Barch
(22) fight during the first period at the Prudential Center. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-USA TODAY Sports
NASSAU VETERANS MEMORIAL COLISEUM OF LEARNING
- Name: Eric Boulton
- Enrolled: 2012-13
- Age: 36
- Undergraduate: 2000
- Days Absent: 33
- Scholarship: 1 year / $575,000
- Achievements: 15 GP, 0 G, 0 A, 0 PTS, -4 +/-, 5 SOG, 5:01 TOI/G, 36 PIM
Class List and Grade History
- Skating: D+
- Shooting: D
- Passing: D+
- Defense: D-
- Leadership: C+
Professor’s Comments: While Eric’s presence in the lineup seemingly never went unquestioned by analysts and fans alike, he certainly made the most of his limited playing time this season for the New York Islanders.
The coaching staff utilized him in situations that called for an imposing, physical style of play (read: fights), thereby cementing his reputation as a brawler. Asking anything more of the journeyman winger would have been unfair; in that regard, Boulton fulfilled expectations.
Boulton has a penchant for engaging opposing players in physical altercations – after all, fighting has its place in hockey – especially at times when his teammates require a spark to ignite the offense.
A prime example was during the Apr. 18 game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, in which Boulton dropped the gloves in the first period shortly after teammate Matt Carkner did the same with a Toronto player.
The fights ignited the Isles offense, as the team scored five unanswered goals en route to a 5-3 victory in a game that was a critical part of the late-season run that earned the Islanders their first postseason berth in six years.
True, Eric did not dazzle viewers with displays offensive skill, and it was no secret that his defensive capabilities are severely limited – often causing Isles fans to compare him to a traffic cone – but if heart counts for anything, Boulton’s grit and determination earned him the praise of his teammates.
The grades above accurately reflect Boulton’s lack of “hockey sense,” although they do not account for the edge he brought to the lineup on nights when he cracked the top 12 forwards.
Newer hockey fans may not understand how the so-called “goons” are allowed onto NHL rosters; purists, however, must concede that players like Eric are part of the game. It’s with that in mind that Boulton’s season should be evaluated.
Professor’s Recommendation: Eric does not play well with others – opposing players, that is – a fact well known to his opponents around the NHL. While his teammates cannot speak more highly of his willingness to protect them on the ice or his ability to draw the team together when the locker room doors are closed, players not on the New York Islanders have been made aware of Boulton’s general role within the construct of the team.
It is therefore the recommendation of the faculty here at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum of Learning that Eric be re-signed for one year, provided that the contract amount is at league minimum.
Based on his offensive output – nonexistant – and his defensive skill – again, severely lacking – Boulton should not be relied upon to provide any type of scoring or lockdown defending on a regular basis. However, his presence on the ice is often times required, especially in a league as physically demanding as the NHL. Besides, an 82-game schedule in 2013-14 will provide more than a few games deemed “less than important” and therefore worth resting the players above Boulton on the depth chart.
Complaints that star centerman John Tavares has had to deal with too much in the way of excessive force from opposing players should no longer go unacknowledged; by bringing Boulton back for at least another year, the front office can effectively mitigate those situations.
In short, with Eric on the roster, opposing players looking to exert their will on Islanders players will have to think twice before engaging them in confrontation. Boulton is certainly willing to drop the gloves should the circumstances require it.
Eric understands his role on the team, which is all one can ask of a player with a limited skill set with regards to goal scoring or less-than-stellar numbers in Selke Trophy-worthy categories like takeaways or faceoffs won.
Boulton may not fill up the scoresheet – penalty minutes notwithstanding – but his contributions to the team are admirable nonetheless.
Poll: agree or disagree with the faculty’s assessment of Eric’s performance. Was re-upping his contract for another year a good decision by the Islanders front office? Vote ‘Promote’ to agree, or ‘Expel’ to disagree.