Sharks GM Doug Wilson made it clear in the early offseason that Dan Boyle would not be returning to San Jose next season.
Yet there was still a tinge of sadness when the team announced Thursday that they had traded rights to Boyle to the New York Islanders in exchange for a conditional fifth round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft — which could become a fourth round pick should the 37-year-old defenseman choose to re-sign with New York.
There was noticeable decline in Boyle’s performance this past season following his hit-from-behind in St. Louis. However Boyle, who spent the past six seasons in a Sharks sweater, he has enough left in the tank and could benefit another team.
Should he choose to sign with New York, it would fill a gap on defense for an Isles team who ended 2014 bringing up the rear in the Metropolitan Division.
Again, that is if Boyle, who is due to become an unrestricted free agent on July 1, re-signs with New York before the start of the 2014-2015 season.
It’s hard to see the exit of a recognizable dressing room presence, especially a guy who cleans out his stall after ranking first in goals, assists and points among the franchise’s d-men. But the Sharks need to move on from Boyle to stay on course with all the changes they claim to want to make.
All talk since the end of the Sharks’ 2013-14 campaign has been about the team “going younger,” and it’s painfully obvious that shifts need to be made to change the mentality of a club that bumbled a 3-0 series lead over the LA Kings in the first round of this year’s Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Changing the team’s mindset starts with its leadership, and moving Sharks’ alternate captain is part of that.
(Yes, there is still the matter of whether the Sharks will keep Joe Thornton and Patrick Marleau around during this shift toward a younger and meaner team, but that argument deserves an article all to itself.)
Boyle leaves San Jose after notching 36 points (12 goals, 24 assists) and 32 penalty minutes in 75 games during the 2013-2014 season. He registered a total 269 points (68 goals, 201 assists) and 305 penalty minutes in 431 games played in a teal sweater.