Boyes looks to rediscover All-Star form on Island
|The Islanders will ask proven scorer Brad Boyes to take on a prominent offensive role in 2012-13 (Getty Images)
Three seasons have passed since Brad Boyes last reached the 30-goal plateau. If he's ever going to return to All-Star form, it will likely come in 2012-13 as a member of the New York Islanders.
Boyes, who scored 76 goals over two campaigns with the St. Louis Blues from 2007-09, scored just eight times in 65 games with the Buffalo Sabres this past season. But on the opening day of free agency, the Isles signed Boyes to a one-year, $1 million deal to help replace the void left by PA Parenteau, who was signed by the Colorado Avalanche that same afternoon.
For now, it appears Boyes -- who turned 30 in April -- will be penciled in to replace Parenteau on New York's top line alongside John Tavares -- one of the game's evolving superstars -- and Matt Moulson, who reached the 30-goal plateau for a third straight season in 2011-12. Indeed, it's a golden opportunity for Boyes to regain that scoring touch he had with the Blues.
"I'm really looking forward to it," Boyes told NHL.com. "Things didn't work out in Buffalo, but I think it’s going to be good. It's a good chance for me to get back to playing the way I think I can play. It's a good opportunity. I'm really excited. It's a chance to play with a good, young group of guys that has some experience as well."
Things began to tail off for Boyes in 2009-10. One season after tallying 33 goals, he was held to 14 in 82 games. In 2010-11, he found the back of the net 12 times in 62 games before being traded to the Sabres. He finished the regular season strong, recording 14 points (five goals, nine assists) in 21 games, but was held to one goal (his only point) in a seven-game, opening-round Stanley Cup Playoff loss to the Philadelphia Flyers.
And this past season, Boyes -- along with the majority of his teammates in Buffalo -- struggled mightily. His 23 points were, by far, the fewest he's had since his first full season in the NHL with the Boston Bruins in 2005-06.
"I just think it wasn't the best fit," Boyes said of his time in Buffalo. "There's a lot of guys with similar styles of play, so I kind of had to shift around and change things up. There's probably a thousand different things, but I think overall it just wasn't a great fit for me. There's no hard feelings at all, it's just kind of the way it was."
When it comes to the Islanders, the biggest difference between Boyes and Parenteau is they were hoping Parenteau could produce consistently at the NHL level when they signed him away from the New York Rangers in the summer of 2010. It was a gamble that paid off in a big way -- so much so that Parenteau signed a four-year, $16 million deal with the Avalanche on July 1. In Boyes, the Isles know they have someone who can score. Now, it's likely up to Tavares to help him do it again.
"I'm real excited … he's a heck of a player," Boyes said of Tavares. "He definitely stands out. He's made a great combination with Moulson too. They complement each other very well. To get an opportunity with those guys, I think it's going to be great. You never know, but I'm looking to fit in with those guys or wherever I fit in. If I do get a chance to play with Tavares, I'm going to take advantage and I'm definitely looking forward to it.
"I always want to go out and do as well as I can, but definitely coming off last season, just personally I want to get back to the right form and get back to playing the way I know I can. I don't have to prove anybody wrong or not, I just have to play well and try to score goals again. I think we can make a push and surprise some people."
Follow Brian Compton on Twitter: @BComptonNHL