New York Islanders Top Unrestricted Free Agent Targets
Toronto Maple Leafs: Brian Boyle
Brian Boyle is the second big man on this list. Just like Hanzal before him, he stands at 6’6″ and tips the scales at 244lbs. He’s a bit bigger than Hanzal.
He also costs less than Hanzal did. Or at least he did before he became an unrestricted free agent. His $2 million cap his and his 25 points in 75 games are justifiable.
At that rate, he costs less than both Casey Cizikas and Cal Clutterbuck by a healthy margin. That should speak volumes.
Boyle brings a big physical presence, something the New York Islanders undoubtedly remember from when Boyle was a part of the New York Rangers outfit between 2009 and 2014.
For such a physical player Boyle doesn’t get into significant penalty trouble. Last season he had a career-high 66 penalty minutes. But with a career-high six fighting majors, the minutes add up quickly.
Strength: See Martin Hanzal: “He’s really big.” He can still score and put up points.
Weakness: He isn’t anywhere near as prolific as the Islanders need for that second line center, but pushing him down to a fourth line role and Cizikas up to a third line makes sense. It at least justifies Cizikas’ pay rate.
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The unrestricted free agent class is pretty barren. These four represent the best of the best at center. My hope is that if Garth goes through free agency to get a center he goes for Sam Gagner. He ticks all of the proverbial boxes the Islanders need and could come cheap.