TORONTO — Few players in the NHL today can claim the trade deadline experience of Maple Leafs winger Brad Boyes.
The 33-year-old veteran has been dealt four times in his 11-year career, all on deadline day or in the days leading up to it.
“It’s a great time of the year for me,” Boyes said with a grin. “I lose sleep.”
Boyes describes the prospect of a trade as a trip into the unknown, one that doesn’t get easier with time. He’s become wiser, perhaps, in handling the speculation and uncertainty that comes with the deadline, but now with a wife and kids the complications are greater.
“It’s easier when you’re younger, you don’t have kids,” says Boyes, who has two young children. “I haven’t been traded when I’ve had kids.”
An impending unrestricted free agent who is heating up recently with six points in the past seven games, Boyes and his family could be on the move.
The rebuilding Leafs have already dealt three expiring contracts for draft picks, namely Shawn Matthias, Roman Polak and Nick Spaling with Boyes, P.A. Parenteau and perhaps Michael Grabner soon to join that group.
Former Washington Capitals winger Alan May was dealt four times on trade deadline day, the most in NHL history.
Boyes doesn’t officially meet that mark, but he’s pretty close.
A first-round pick of the Leafs in 2000, Boyes was dealt from Toronto to San Jose about a week before the deadline in 2003. He was sent to Boston on deadline day a year later. Three years after that, Boyes was traded from Boston to St. Louis for defenceman Dennis Wideman on deadline day. Four years later, he moved from the Blues to the Sabres for a second-round pick a day before the 2011 deadline.
“It’s not easy,” he said of getting moved, noting the difficulty of leaving a familiar environment for something unknown.
Boyes says he’s not thinking about the prospect of being dealt as much as he might have in the past. He is a believer in the commonly held wisdom of worrying only about that which you can control.
He didn’t have that kind of perspective early in his career.
“Guys will say that ‘I can’t control it, I’ve got to play’ (and) you really have to,” Boyes said. “But it’s not easy. It’s going to be in your mind, back of your mind and everyone’s going to deal with it differently.
“I’m at a point now, I’ve been through it a number of times now, I really just want to play and play well.”