Is Brad Boyes the Best Fit for First Line Wing?

Over at CBS Sports Adam Gretz asks a question that’s been on Islander fan’s minds all summer — what can be expected from Brad Boyes this season? Gretz has two interesting points:

A couple of things to consider:

1) When Boyes had his two best seasons his shooting percentages in those seasons were 20 percent (his 43-goal season) and 15.8 percent (his 33-goal season), by far the best of his career and numbers he’s probably never going to duplicate. He topped even 10 percent just one other time in his career and has been below that mark in each of the past three seasons. Even if he plays alongside Tavares and Moulson all season they’re not good enough to boost his shooting back up to that sort of level. That’s because no center is.

2) Not only has Boyes seen a drop in his percentages, he’s also seen a decline in his ability to generate shots on goal, as the chart below shows. [Link to chart]

Kevin Schultz, Islanders Point Blank:

The Islanders signed Boyes to a one-year, $1 million deal in July which is a low risk, high reward signing. For a guy coming off an eight goal, 23 point campaign it’s anything but certain that he’ll net enough pucks to turn into a high reward. It’s also an interesting point from Gretz that Boyes — or whomever fills the wing role on the first line — won’t have a ton of shots to take with Tavares and Moulson likely getting the bulk of those. Last season, PA Parenteau had 42% fewer shots than John Tavares and 23% less than Moulson. It’s pretty simple that less opportunities should mean less goals. Of course, there is a valid counter argument to consider here that Parenteau is a pass-first player, which certainly reflects in these numbers.

The conclusion of many has been that Boyes will certainly get an opportunity on the first line along with John Tavares and Matt Moulson. Boyes should have every opportunity to win the top line job but so should a host of others. There’s Kyle Okposo who had good chemistry with Moulson and Tavares for long stretches. Josh Bailey showed an awful lot of promise towards the end of the season as a second-line winger but end of the season results can be misleading. Michael Grabner is another candidate who deserves a shot as well.

Boyes should get a shot on the first line, but while we’re still in summer mode and hypothesizing about what could happen, it would be much too soon to write him into the top spot just yet.