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Sharks reel in Boyle, Lukowich

by Phil Coffey

Despite a freak wrist injury last season, Dan Boyle posted 25 points in 37 games for the Lightning, enough to get San Jose to swap fellow blueliner Matt Carle for him.
CHECK out Dan Boyle highlights
On the heels of signing longtime NHL All-Star Rob Blake, the San Jose Sharks reeled in another top-notch defenseman Friday, acquiring Dan Boyle, as well as veteran defenseman Brad Lukowich, from the Tampa Bay Lightning.

In exchange, the Lightning receive defenseman Matt Carle, defensive prospect Ty Wishart, plus a 2009 first-round pick and a 2010 fourth-round pick.

Boyle, 31, a skilled puck-moving defenseman who had signed a multi-year contract with the Lightning last season, waived the contract’s no-trade clause, allowing the deal to the Sharks to happen.

“Dan is one of the elite offensive-minded defensemen in the League today,” Sharks GM Doug Wilson said. “Being able to acquire an elite player in his prime that has won a Stanley Cup will help this organization get to where we want to go.”

The Lightning, after a string of signings that has secured the services of Ryan Malone, Vinny Prospal, Gary Roberts, Radim Vrbata, Adam Hall and Olaf Kolzig, and the much anticipated contract extension for Vinny Lecavalier, needed to clear some cap space and found a willing partner in the Sharks, who had seen Brian Campbell, a puck-moving defenseman like Boyle, leave the team as a free agent and sign with Chicago.

"Anytime you consider trading a player of Dan Boyle’s caliber, you have to be sure of your options and subsequent decisions,” Lightning Vice President of Hockey Operations Brian Lawton said. “For years, Dan has been a big part of the Lightning's success, but we felt the need to make this move was in the best interest of our present and our future. We know this has been difficult for Dan and his family, but he has been nothing but a professional through the entire process and we thank him for that."

Thursday’s announced signing of Blake at first appeared to be the move to replace Campbell, but Wilson jumped at the chance to get a skilled player like Boyle and a veteran presence in Lukowich.

“Brad is a tough competitor that isn’t afraid to give up his body for the sake of the team,” said Wilson. “He has won two Stanley Cups and he knows that everyone on a team needs to play a role in order to achieve the ultimate success.”

Injuries limited Boyle to 37 games last season. He scored four goals and 25 points. The Sharks are anticipating Boyle to return to the form he displayed in 2006-07, when he played in all 82 regular-season games, scoring 20 goals and 43 assists, both career highs.

In 523 regular season games, Boyle has scored 76 goals and 216 assists.

Lukowich had one goal and six assists in 59 games with the Lightning last season.

Carle, 23, scored two goals and 13 assists in 62 games for the Sharks last season. He won the Hobey Baker Award in 2006 as the top player in American college hockey and had been selected 47th overall in the 2003 Entry Draft. After breaking into the NHL with three goals and three assists in 12 games in 2005-06, Carle had a terrific 2006-07 season, scoring 11 goals and 31 assists in 77 games.

"We are thrilled to add a player with Matt's abilities to our roster as we continue our plan of retooling and refinishing the Lightning team,” Lawton said. "He quarterbacked the number one power play unit in the NHL two seasons ago as a rookie and he clearly will add speed and skill to our lineup. He fits with our plan of trying to getting younger and better."

“We really feel that Matt will have tremendous success in this League,” Wilson said. “But you have to give to get and we felt that this move will ultimately help us get to where we want to get.”

There is a Carle connection in Tampa Bay. At the 2008 Entry Draft, Matt’s younger brother, David, was a lock to be drafted. But his promising career was stopped before really getting a chance to start. Carle was diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, a thickening of the walls of the heart that has been cited in the sudden death of young athletes.

Through his agent, Kurt Overhardt, Carle informed all 30 teams of his diagnosis and his decision to no longer play hockey.

Yet, the Lightning used their final pick, No. 203, to select Carle.

"It was a selection made by our new owner, Oren Koules," said Jay Feaster, the Lightning GM. "He did some discussions with some people, but he came and asked us if we would make that pick. He said the young man worked his whole life to be in a position to be drafted today. He wanted us to make the pick and that's why we did it."

Carle likely did not know about the selection immediately, but was accepting of the news that changed the course of his life.

"It's really not the end of the world,'' Carle told the Anchorage Daily News. "I'm really quite fortunate they were able to find it.

"I've still got a long life ahead of me. I have a lot to look forward to and a lot of opportunities ahead of me.''

Carle totaled 34 assists and 45 points in 55 games this past season at Minnesota prep powerhouse Shattuck-St. Mary's, and was ranked No. 60 among North American skaters in NHL Central Scouting's final ratings.

Abnormalities were discovered during a medical test at the NHL Scouting Combine last month in Toronto. Carle was referred for further testing, and doctors at the Mayo Clinic in Minnesota made the final diagnosis this week. Carle had earned a scholarship to play hockey at Denver University next season, and the school said it will honor the scholarship. Denver coach George Gwozdecky said Carle would have some role with the program.

Wishart is a big defenseman, 6-foot-3, 203 pounds who was drafted 16th overall in the 2006 Entry Draft by the Sharks. In 2007-09, Wishart scored 12 goals and 28 assists in 40 Western Hockey League games with the Prince George Cougars and an additional four goals and 23 assists in 32 games with the Moose Jaw Warriors. He also appeared in five games with the AHL’s Worcester Sharks, going scoreless. 


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