Toronto Maple Leafs center Brian Boyle, who can become an unrestricted free agent Saturday, is interested in returning to the Tampa Bay Lightning, he told the Tampa Bay Times on Sunday.
Boyle spent nearly three full seasons with the Lightning before being traded to the Maple Leafs on Feb. 27. He had three assists in 21 regular-season games for Toronto, then had two assists in six games in the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs.
"We love Tampa," said Boyle, who had 66 points (41 goals, 25 assists) in 212 regular-season games with the Lightning and helped them reach the Stanley Cup Final in 2015. "If Tampa wanted to work out a deal, that's definitely a huge option for us. That's something that I've kind of always thought about. I haven't closed the door on anything."
The Lightning could be looking to add two players to their top nine forwards, according to the Times, but Boyle was not contacted by general manager Steve Yzerman on Sunday when the window for courting unrestricted free agents opened.
Tampa Bay may not have contacted Boyle, but the Times reported the Lightning were one of many teams who contacted Washington Capitals defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, a pending unrestricted free agent, on Sunday.
Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello said Thursday that he had spoken to Boyle, but not about the center's future with Toronto.
Boyle said he was disappointed when the Lightning traded him to the Maple Leafs.
"I understand the part of the game; that makes sense to me," Boyle said. "I could definitely understand why things were done the way they were done, the situation the team was in, with the cap. You have to roll with it, it's going to happen. It's not a personal thing, can't take it personally.
"I had a great time there. Everybody in that organization treated me unbelievable. It was a blast to be part of it. Getting traded [stinks]. At the time, it's always kind of a change. When the season ended, I'm a free agent, and I've kind of been here before in this position. And I've been fortunate to enjoy every place that I've played. [Tampa Bay] is a great place to be, great place to start a family. And, honestly, we'll see what they say. You want to be wanted. That's the other part."