When San Jose Sharks general manager Doug Wilson addressed the media Thursday on a teleconference, he noted that there would be several changes to the roster. The most notable alteration is the team's plan not to re-sign defenseman Dan Boyle.
After six seasons with the club, Boyle had hoped to return and finish out his career in San Jose. From the moment he arrived as a free agent with the Sharks, Boyle was an integral part of their core. With another bitterly disappointing playoff run, which ended after the Sharks blew a 3-0 series lead to the Los Angeles Kings, it's no surprise that the the front office wants to go in a different direction. With Boyle's contract expiring, he appeared to be a rather easy piece to be removed.
Boyle told CSNBayArea.com's Kevin Kurz that he wished to come back to the team. However, after the team offered Boyle a one-year deal when the veteran defenseman wanted two, contract talks never progressed. This was something Boyle saw coming, but it was still a tough pill to swallow.
“Even though I was kind of expecting it a little bit, yeah, it was devastating,” Boyle said on Friday. “I was clear that I wanted to be back here and I loved it here. It can still be pretty tough news to take, but when you lose like we did, you figure that changes are going to be made. Part of me thought this could happen.
“It's definitely tough, but it's exciting at the same time. It's a confusing time, but it is what it is. It's a business, and at the end of the day, things happen.
“I'm obviously crushed and hurt with what's happened, but I'm a competitor. I want to win the Stanley Cup. That's what I'm excited about. I'm looking forward to the next opportunity.”
Boyle's previous contract came with a $6.67 million annual cap hit, so it is highly likely that he was going to have to take a pay cut to stay with the Sharks. Now he'll hit the open market as an attractive free agent addition for a number of teams that need veteran help.
Boyle will turn 38 before next season, but as an offensive-minded right-shot defenseman, there should be quite a market for him. With 561 points in 954 career regular-season games and 70 points in 107 career postseason contests, Boyle has plenty for teams to like.
Could he get the two-year deal he sought elsewhere? Odds are that he can, though it'd be hard to see him matching or exceeding the rate he was getting this season.
For the Sharks, getting away from an expensive contract is not the worst idea. They'll also use a compliance buyout on Martin Havlat, which will give the club flexibility in the upcoming free agent market and really open up their options in general.
They'll still miss the production and experience Boyle brought to the club. He'll probably go down as one of the best defensemen the club has ever had, but that lack of a Stanley Cup in San Jose will loom large over this generation of players for the organization.
That's something the 37-year-old lamented in his conversation with Kurz.
“The experience as a whole, playing here in front of these fans, was just an incredible experience,” he said. “Obviously, I'm going to leave with regret that we didn't get the job done, but when I look in the mirror at the end of the day, I know that I gave it everything I had.”