Tampa Bay Lightning defenceman Dan Boyle was dealt to the San Jose Sharks on Friday after the blue-liner agreed to waive his no-trade clause.
The deal sends Boyle and defenceman Brad Lukowich to San Jose in exchange for young defenceman Matt Carle, a 2009 first-round pick, a fourth-round pick in 2010 as well as prospect Ty Wishart.
"It's pretty rare when a player like Dan becomes available," Sharks general manager Doug Wilson said. "He's one of the elite players in this league. He's won a Stanley Cup … he'll be the quarterback of our power play for a long time."
Later Friday, San Jose then made room for its new defensive talent by trading veteran defenceman Craig Rivet to Buffalo for two second-round draft picks.
In recent days, Boyle had initially refused to waive the clause in the hopes he could honour his six-year, $40-million US deal signed with Tampa Bay last February. But new owners Oren Koules and Len Barrie have led a dramatic overhaul of the franchise in just a couple of weeks, which has seen the team's payroll increase above the NHL's imposed salary cap of $56.7-million.
For a team clearly moving in a different direction, Boyle's contract didn't fit in and on Friday he consented to the move.
"That's the way we're going. We went through the whole process and picked a place he's very happy to be. If the Lightning can go ahead and consummate a trade, then Dan is very happy with that," Boyle's agent George Bazos told the St. Petersburg Times website earlier on Friday.
Boyle, who turns 32 next weekend, went on a premature honeymoon to Hawaii shortly after the Lightning's awful season ended. He got married just two weeks ago, never realizing he was about to change teams after signing a long-term deal.
"I don't have the nicest things to say about what happened, but I don't want to dwell on this," Boyle said in a phone interview from his Ontario cottage. "I was misled and disrespected, and it was really not the right way to do a lot of things. I don't have anything good to say about how all this went down."
Boyle is coming off an injury-plagued 2007-08 season that saw him play just 37 games for the Lightning due to a serious locker room accident that severed three tendons in his left wrist last September. He finished the year with four goals and 21 assists.
In 523 career games with the Lightning and the Florida Panthers, the Ottawa native has scored 76 goals and added 216 assists (292 points) and is considered one of the league's top puck movers.
After losing star rearguard Brian Campbell to free agency, the Sharks have moved quickly to replace him. The move for Boyle follows the team's signing of veteran defenceman Rob Blake to a one-year deal worth $5 million on Thursday.
"The second I hung up with Doug [Wilson], I just felt good," said Boyle, who has suited up for Canada alongside Sharks stars Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Blake and also played with San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov in the minors. "I heard Blakie was excited about having me go there, and that just made me feel great. I'm the type of player that's had to prove myself my whole career, and this is just another chapter in my book.
"I'm just absolutely pumped to prove what I can do. This team is just a couple of pieces away from winning, and hopefully we're the right guys."
While keeping their talented mix of forwards largely intact during free agency, the Sharks have refurbished a defence that sometimes got pushed around in this year's post-season.
"We've got a group of our key guys coming into their prime … [but] we didn't play well in the playoffs," Wilson said. "We were not going to sit back and just hope things are going to change. We had to go out and make change. Getting people who have been there and won it and played at very high levels is very important."
Lukowich, 31, had a goal and six assists with the Lightning in 59 games last season. The rugged blue-liner was leading the team in hits before a sports hernia suffered against the Atlanta Thrashers on Feb. 9 sidelined him for 21 games. The two-time Stanley Cup-winner has 21 goals and 81 assists (103 points) in 582 NHL games with the Lightning, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders and New Jersey Devils.
Carle, 23, struggled with the Sharks last season, scoring two goals and adding 13 assists in 62 games. In his first full season with the Sharks in 2006-07, the native of Anchorage, Alaska, had 11 goals with 31 assists (42 points) in 77 games.