Charlie Coyle always reminded me of Jim Sandlak.
For those who do not recall Sandlak, he was the 1985 World Juniors star who became a top pick of the Vancouver Canucks. So big they nicknamed him "House," Sandlak never lived up to expectations. But Vancouver refused to trade him. Why? Because they made arguably the biggest blunder in franchise history when they rushed a similar prospect out the door named Cam Neely. The Canucks always feared Sandlak would blossom somewhere else, making them look foolish again.
Coyle has long been a puzzle in Minnesota. In seven seasons the giant winger has been a solid player, but somehow always left you wanting more. It probably didn't help that the Wild traded Brent Burns to San Jose for a package including Coyle, who at that time was still a top amateur prospect.
I suspect Minnesota hung on to Coyle longer than they could have/should have simply because of Burns explosive success with the Sharks. Coyle had - and continues to have - so much upside it's scary. A natural winger, he has been shoehorned into the center position too many times. If he ever put it altogether, he could yet be a top player in the National Hockey League.
Coyle's best year came last year when he was allowed to play wing and he played a nice playmaking role helping rejuvenate Eric Staal's career. But Staal has slowed down, and Coyle has been forced back in the middle of the ice as star pivot Mikko Koivu has been sidelined for the rest of the year.
If there is a team where Coyle could finally find his game with it is Boston. The Weymouth, Massachusetts native and former Boston University star comes home to a powerful, Stanley Cup contending team. He should fit in nicely somewhere on Boston's wing.
Coyle still has another season on his contract (at a friendly $3.2m cap hit) before becoming an unrestricted free agent.
The Bruins send Ryan Donato to Minnesota in return. The son of former Bruin standout Ted Donato, Ryan is a promising player who has been buried by the Bruins depth here in his rookie season. The Wild are clearly in sell-mode for the upcoming trade deadline even though they are still alive in the Western Conference wild card race.