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Decisions, decisions: Boyle and Stralman

6/19/2014

Two of the biggest decisions facing the New York Rangers this summer? Whether to bring back unrestricted free agents Brian Boyle and Anton Stralman.

Both players made $1.7 million last season, but will be looking for more money, and, at least in Boyle’s case, “more responsibility.”

Boyle was excellent in his role as a top penalty killer/gritty fourth-liner last season.

His short-handed goal in Game 5 of the Stanley Cup finals was nothing short of sensational. It was probably his greatest moment as a Ranger, but it also may have been his last.

Here’s coach Alain Vigneault when asked about Boyle:

“Players all want to play on the power play. His role on our team is a very important role. It’s first [unit] penalty killing. It’s when we’ve got a lead, we’re sending him out. He had a huge contribution to our team. I would say in my dealing with Brian, he would probably like to have a different role, but his role on our team is a very important role. If he’s satisfied with having that role, I would definitely want him back.

“At the end of the day, players have to decide if they’re satisfied with what they’re being given, but it's 12 to 14 minutes a game that he’s getting, they’re huge minutes. Some players don’t see it, but they’re huge minutes to teams having success and I’m hoping he sees that.”

Brian Boyle

Brian Boyle

#22 C

New York Rangers

2014 STATS

  • GM82
  • G6

  • A12

  • PTS18

  • +/-1

  • PIM56

Doesn’t sound promising. At the same time, you wonder: Would another team be willing to give Boyle what he wants?

Stralman really came into his own playing alongside Marc Staal on the second defensive pairing. During the playoffs, he averaged 21:03 of ice time, while posting five assists and a plus-5 rating.

Here’s Stralman when asked about his future:

“The only thing in my mind really is security for me and my family,” Stralman said. “We’ve been moving a lot -- four teams in seven years. All we’re really looking for is stability, to stay in one place. This is obviously where we want [to be]. I’d like to stay. I hope it can happen. We’ll see.”

Anton Stralman

Anton Stralman

#6 D

New York Rangers

2014 STATS

  • GM81
  • G1

  • A12

  • PTS13

  • +/-9

  • PIM26

Make no mistake about it: Both players were integral parts of the team’s surprising run to the Stanley Cup finals.

But the Rangers are also going to have to pay restricted free agents Derick Brassard ($3.2 million last season), Chris Kreider ($1.325 million) and Mats Zuccarello ($1.15 million). Benoit Pouliot ($1.3 million), who played so well with Brassard and Zuccarello on the third line, is unrestricted. Vigneault said that he could foresee Kevin Klein stepping into a top-four blueliner role, something he did well in Nashville.

The Rangers have about $17 million in cap space. A buyout of Brad Richards would give them $24 million.

Bottom line: It’s going to be hard to keep Boyle and Stralman. Ultimately, they may lose both.

Question: Which player do you think is more important to the Rangers: Boyle or Stralman? If you could only keep one, who would you keep? Why? Let us know in the comments section below.