Arizona Coyotes’ center Travis Boyd may surprise skeptical hockey fans this season. Originally drafted in the sixth round of the 2011 NHL Entry Draft by the Washington Capitals, the Hopkins, Minnesota native has not been expected to shoulder the offensive workload at anytime during his six year career.
That is about to change.
Thanks to his trial by fire 2021-22 season with the Arizona Coyotes, Boyd established career numbers with the team after being a ‘throw in’ player in the Oliver Ekman-Larsson trade. After four very productive seasons with the AHL Hersey Bears (2015-2019), Boyd became a part-time NHL rostered player with Washington, Toronto, and Vancouver, before finally getting the opportunity for big minutes with the Coyotes.
Boyd did not disappoint. Exceeding all expectations of him, Boyd took advantage of his change of scenery and top line opportunity and turned in a 17 goal, 18 assist, and 35 point season. Should this surprise anybody?
I am not saying being born and raised in Minnesota will guarantee that a player becomes an NHL star, but it sure doesn’t hurt. Boyd was a Hopkins High School standout and eventually played for the US National Team and then the University of Minnesota. Boy that pedigree and resume are solid.
His senior year with the Golden Gophers he finished the season with 19 goals, 22 assists, and 41 points in 32 games. To put his numbers into perspective, Nick Schmaltz scored 11 goals, 35 assists, and 46 points in 36 games during his final season with the University of North Dakota.
Am I saying that Boyd is Schmaltz? No. But I am saying that Boyd has the talent to be an effective center for this team, and being surrounded by players like Clayton Keller and Nick Schmaltz will give him every opportunity to not only build on his ‘breakout’ season, but cement a permanent spot with this team.
Looking into next season, being able to build chemistry with the top line, Boyd should easily eclipse the 25 goal mark. He averaged 16:31 minutes of ice time each night (a stat that should increase), had a shooting percentage of 19.3%, and won 45% of his faceoffs. These are not top line center numbers (conventionally) but should Boyd take advantage of this opportunity, his stats should rise.
Ideally Boyd would center the third or fourth line and that could actually happen given the fluid nature of the roster, the team being in a rebuild, injuries, or any other factors that impact a team during the season. For the meantime Boyd is locked in as the top-line center and gets to play with Keller and Schmaltz each night. Expect big things from Boyd this year. An increase in offensive production should not be a surprise.
Check out his interview on the PHNX Podcast. Great stuff. He is a very likeable guy.