Lightning shopping Boyle, give agent permission to contact other teams

After signing top defenseman Dan Boyle to a contract extension at the trade deadline last February, new ownership in Tampa is now actively shopping Boyle and has given his agent permission to contact other teams about working out a trade as well, ESPN.com has learned.

Boyle's agent George Bazos said in an interview late Thursday afternoon that the Lightning are exploring different packages with other teams and that they have given him permission to talk to other teams with whom Boyle might consider playing.

Boyle, a top puck-moving defenseman who helped the Lightning to a Stanley Cup championship in 2004, signed a six-year, $40 million deal that includes a no-trade clause before last February's trade deadline.
Boyle has not agreed to waive that no-trade clause, Bazos said Thursday.

Boyle, soon to be 32, had 25 points in 37 games last season, when he missed the first half of the season after a skate fell off his dressing room stall hook and sliced tendons in his wrist. A year earlier Boyle finished fourth among all NHL defensemen with 63 points. He was a member of the taxi squad for defense-rich Canada at the 2006 Olympics in Torino.

For teams -- San Jose and Ottawa, for instance -- that missed out on signing top free-agent defenseman Brian Campbell, who went to Chicago on Tuesday, the interest in Boyle will be high.

The question is whether the Lightning can find a taker for Boyle that will meet his needs and prompt him to waive his no-trade clause.

"We'll see where it all leads," Bazos said.

Lightning officials would not comment on the developments Thursday afternoon.

The assumption is that since the Lightning's new owners, Oren Koules and Len Barrie, are beating the bushes looking for a package of players to complete their rapid rebuild of the franchise, Boyle's days are numbered in Tampa.

Not so, Bazos said.

Boyle is looking at this as a business decision, the agent said.
If the two sides can't find a destination that works for both Boyle and the team, Bazos said Boyle is quite comfortable returning to the team. Boyle recently married a Tampa-area woman and has roots in the community, having been traded to Tampa from Florida in January 2002.

"Dan's No. 1 goal has always been to remain in Tampa," Bazos said.

"If he stays Dan'll be the first guy at training camp and the first guy on the ice," Bazos added. "We'll see where this takes us."

Scott Burnside is the NHL writer for ESPN.com.