LOS ANGELES - Having already taken a step to solidify their goaltending by trading for and signing Jaroslav Halak, the Islanders went a similar route on Thursday to shore up their defense by acquiring the rights to pending free-agent defenseman Dan Boyle from the Sharks for a conditional 2015 fifth-round pick. If Boyle signs with the Isles, San Jose receives a fourth-round pick.
Boyle, 37, has been an elite offensive defenseman in his 13 NHL seasons, primarily with the Lightning and Sharks. He won a Stanley Cup with Tampa in 2004 and had 12 goals and 24 assists with the Sharks last season, the final season of a six-year, $40 million contract.
The conditional pick buys the Islanders 25 days of negotiating time before free agency begins July 1.
"We don't know what the future brings with Dan but we wanted to get that exclusive negotiating window with him," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told Newsday. "He's a defenseman we think can help our team."
George Bazos, Boyle's agent, said he and Boyle had brief conversations with Snow and Boyle would be educating himself on the Islanders in the coming days.
"Dan wants to talk to some people who know the Islanders organization," Bazos said. "He made it pretty clear to me he's open to any and all options."
Bazos said Boyle is seeking a two-year deal. One of Boyle's first calls is likely to Evgeni Nabokov, his former Sharks teammate who has been an Islander the past three seasons. Nabokov is still in talks with the Isles about a return as backup to Halak, who signed a four-year, $18 million deal on May 22.
Snow said this second deal to acquire negotiating rights in the past few weeks is not an indication that the GM believes his team cannot compete on the open market for talented players.
"We had the assets to get this exclusive window," he said. "I don't really think that deeply about what it means for July 1 or anything like that."