From now until the beginning of training camp, Boston Hockey Now is profiling players who will be on, or have a chance to be on, the 2022-23 Boston Bruins. Today’s player: Charlie Coyle.
What Happened Last Year: Coyle, 30, was again healthy last season and had a solid bounce-back season with 16 goals and the second-highest points total (44) of his NHL career while again settling into a third line center role in Boston.
Coyle played in all 82 games while coming back from knee surgery the summer prior but had some ups and downs while finishing with the worst plus/minus (minus 6) mark of his time in Boston. Coyle also finished with a productive two goals and six points in the seven game playoff series against the Carolina Hurricanes, once again proving that his size, speed and strength combo plays very well in the postseason as it did during Boston’s 2019 run to the Stanley Cup Final.
Coyle played very well down the stretch once he was matched with Trent Frederic and Craig Smith on the third line, so it will be interesting to see if that’s where the Boston Bruins start the year with those three forwards.
There were some hopes in training camp last season that Coyle might be able to step up and be a second line center replacing the departed David Krejci, but it was clear once the season got rolling that the 6-foot-3, 220-pound Weymouth native is much better served in a third line with some big-bodied linemates where they can play the heavy puck possession game.
Questions To Be Answered This Season: The biggest question for Coyle is whether he’ll ever have a 20-goal, 50-point season in his time with the Boston Bruins as he sets in the prime of his NHL career. Coyle has surpassed 20 goals and 50 points once apiece in his NHL career, so it seems like he’s settled into a spot just below that ideal level of production from a guy driving the third line.
It feels like at this point, the athletically gifted Coyle can play at that level for spurts of time as he does during the playoffs and can be very hard to handle in the offensive zone when he sets his mind to being aggressive and taking the puck to the net.
But the problem is that he can’t maintain that level of play physical for the course of an 82-game regular season. The problem becomes how long the Boston Bruins can afford a $5 million per season player that tops out as a third line center and doesn’t really give the kind of offensive upside you’d like to see at that spot.
Still, Coyle brings the kind of physical, heavy game at the forward spot that the Boston Bruins don’t have enough of up front, and that makes him a valuable player to Boston even if the numbers usually aren’t eye-popping with Coyle.
In Their Words: “I am always optimistic and always positive about the future and what we have. We know what we have in here and we like it. This offseason I want to come back and be a better player and use this summer to grow physically and mentally. I just want to come back and be a better player and be a better leader. I hold myself accountable to that.” –Charlie Coyle, on Boston Bruins breakup day about his future.
Overall Outlook: At this point in his career, Coyle is what he is. He’s a solid big body that will sometimes wow you with his package of skill, size, strength and speed, and at other times you simply won’t notice him as much as you’d like. He gives the Boston Bruins somebody under the age of 35 that could potentially play top-6 center in a pinch, and Coyle also has the versatility to play on the wing as well where he comes more of a traditional power forward type.
Provided he stays healthy, Coyle should easily reach 15+ goals and 40+ points once again, and perhaps he can even go higher than that if he’s paired with bigger offensive talents on his wings for this upcoming season.