Jan 5, 2014; Chicago, IL, USA; San Jose Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle (22) shoots the puck against the Chicago Blackhawks during the third period at the United Center. The San Jose Sharks beat the Chicago Blackhawks 3-2 in the shootout. Mandatory Credit: Rob Grabowski-USA TODAY Sports

Is This Dan Boyle's Final Year With The San Jose Sharks?

Ever since Dan Boyle has come to the San Jose Sharks in a trade from the Tampa Bay Lightning, he has been the Sharks’ best defenseman year in and year out.

He has been considered a key member in the Sharks “Big 3″ in years past. He, Joe Thornton, and Patrick Marleau are always considered year every year as the best Sharks. However, in the past few years analysts have said that the Sharks window is closing due to Thornton, Marleau, and Boyle getting older and not producing as much. The year that would decide if the analysts were correct or not was this year, as all three were in the final year of their contract and weren’t guaranteed to return to San Jose next year. While Marleau and Thornton signed extensions this season due to a year of excellent play, the aging defenseman has struggled and has not looked the same as he has when he first arrived in San Jose. In fact, he hasn’t even looked like the same Dan Boyle of last year.

This will be Dan Boyle’s last year as a member of the San Jose Sharks.

Six games into the season, the San Jose Sharks were off to a typical fast start and came up against a fellow Stanley Cup contender, the St. Louis Blues. Early in the game, Maxim Lapierre hit Dan Boyle into the boards leaving Boyle unconscious and concussed, laying on the ice. Boyle was out for the rest of the month, and when he came back against the Phoenix Coyotes, he scored a goal and everybody thought that the regular Dan Boyle was back.

Boy, were we wrong. Dan was noticeably slower. Some may say that comes with age, but it wasn’t so much the age that slowed him down as it was the injury. Not only was his play affected, but so was his personal life. As David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News revealed in an article about the lingering affects of Boyle’s injury, he had trouble sleeping, generating energy, and maintaining balance. He recognized that it was his decision to come back from his injury as quickly as he did and if he could do it again, he would have sat out longer to make sure he was ok to come back. He rushed back onto the ice, and it affected his play. Ever since then, he’s been noticeably slower and that’s something the Sharks can’t afford, as they’re a team that traded away Douglas Murray, Ryane Clowe, and Michal Handzus to make their team faster. His slower pace is a key issue in him being a member of Team Teal next season.

Slow play aside, Dan Boyle is still a fantastic defenseman. Even at age 37, he still makes the smart play, quarterbacks the power play, and is normally in very good position defensively. He’s a great defenseman to have on your team, and other NHL teams will notice that. However, the one thing the Sharks will not do is overpay. The Sharks will offer Boyle a contract with what they believe is an appropriate amount of money, but as we’ve seen in the NHL, there is always a team that will highly overpay to get a player on their team. The Toronto Maple Leafs overpaid for David Clarkson. The Buffalo Sabres overpaid for Ville Leino. Someone in the NHL will overpay for Dan Boyle. When it comes to the contract offer, there are two scenarios for Dan Boyle. He either takes less money to stay in San Jose, which Sharks fans would love because he is still a great defenseman, or he will go to the team that offers him more money and finish out his career in a different city. Which will he choose?

Dan Boyle was an undrafted player in 1998 and he is now one of the top defensemen on a Stanley Cup contender team. The only way you can become that type of player is if you never sell yourself short. Dan Boyle has been a passionate, confident, and sometimes angry player. He might love playing in San Jose, but because of how much of a passionate player he is and how he feels about his game, I seriously doubt that he takes less money to stay in San Jose. He will take what he feels he deserves, and some NHL team will pay that for him. Dan Boyle has been a staple point in the San Jose Sharks defensive core, and all Sharks fans would love to have him finish his career in San Jose.

Unfortunately, I don’t see that happening. If it does, I’d be pleasantly surprised but if he leaves, it’s been one helluva ride, Dan. One helluva ride.

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Tags: Dan Boyle San Jose Sharks

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