The Devils Are Officially Open For Business, As They Broke A Few Hearts In Flipping Brian Boyle To The Predators For A 2nd(!) Round Pick
I don't think it would be fair to say there is nothing not to love about this deal, because the abrupt absence of a fan-favorite whose real life resilience and locker room leadership were so much of an inspirational asset to a young team that his improved play was almost an afterthought. When he was signed to be a veteran stopgap in the bottom-six of a rebuilding team two off-seasons ago, not even the man who offered him the contract could have possibly predicted the impact that Brian Boyle would have on the Devils.
Of course, that's mostly because cancer has a sick and twisted habit of showing up unannounced, but it's also due to the strength and perseverance of the person whose door it kicked down for turning the worst of news into some of the best of memories. It feels a bit disingenuous to remember Brian Boyle's relatively short time with the Devils only for his first round knockout of a debilitating disease, as he was a reliable role player who earned his way onto both special teams units by doing the little things well while providing stability, toughness, and a surprising amount of offense. Separate of his diagnosis, his recovery, and all the hardships that went along with them, Brian Boyle more than fulfilled his end of what proved to be a bargain of a contract. That said, I'm not quite sure you can underestimate how incredibly cool it was to watch him add insult to remission by contributing a Masterton Trophy-worthy effort to an unexpected playoff run and turning just about every 'Hockey Fights Cancer' night into his own, superstar-esque stat night.
At the end of the day, this is an incredible return for the Devils. In removing all emotional attachment, a 4th liner - no matter how amazing a person and versatile a player - is still a 4th liner. Getting a 2nd round pick to replace the one they sold off last February was a priority, and - from a coldhearted hockey prospective - they didn't give up all that much to get it. It still sucks to move a beloved player who said he would have preferred to stay with the franchise that he quickly made himself an unforgettable part of, but snatching up a sizable asset while giving someone who deserves a Stanley Cup his best shot at one makes this is as much of a win-win as you could possibly hope for.
I certainly wouldn't be shocked to see Brian Boyle return to New Jersey in free agency, given all his glowing reviews of the organization throughout the most trying period of his life. However, as that's nothing more than a maybe, he's owed all the thanks, praise, and appreciation in the world for making it way too damn hard to accept the reality of an absolute no-brainer of deadline deal. I can't possibly imagine that I don't speak for all Devils' fans in rooting for him to become as much of a champion on the ice in Nashville as he has already proven off of it during a stay in New Jersey that - to his credit entirely - didn't feel anywhere near as short as it was.