The New York Islanders have acquired Johnny Boychuck and Nick Leddy in two separate trades Saturday.
Having traded their 2015 first round pick to Buffalo in the Thomas Vanek trade, the Islanders are desperate to make the playoffs and avoid giving away a lottery pick. Acquiring two very solid NHL defensemen should go a long way in helping avoid a disaster.
The Islanders have traded two second round picks in exchange for the 30 year old blue liner. The picks are in the 2015 and 2016 drafts. There is also a conditional third round pick in the deal, should the Islanders decide to trade Boychuck to another Eastern Conference team during this season. Possessing one of the hardest shots in the NHL, the 6’2″ 225 Boychuck will certainly improve the Isles on the back-end and go a long way to making them a playoff team.
The Isles add a player who makes them better at no cost to the current roster while the Bruins get out of a salary cap jam. While still technically over the cap, the Bruins can now put a player into the minors to start the season, after which Marc Savard’s salary gets moved to long term injured reserve status and the team will have room to add a player or two later in the season.
While the loss of Boychuck certainly hurts the Bruins, this will allow them to give more prominent roles to Doug Hamilton and Tony Krug, both players who were healthy scratches at times last year more for numbers reasons than because of their play.
Basically, this is the unusual trade where everyone wins. Obviously the Bruins would keep Boychuck in a perfect world, but this does allow them to comply with the cap without drastically hurting their team.
In Nick Leddy the Islanders may have scored even bigger than in acquiring Boychuck. Only, 23 and a veteran of four NHL seasons already, Leddy is a decently sized (6′ 190lbs) puck moving defensemen who put up 31 points last year despite being stranded on the third pairing of the Black Hawks. On the Islanders, in a more prominent role, the sky is the limit for the offensively talented Leddy. A former 16th overall pick by the Wild, Leddy has great vision, blazing speed and the potential to be an elite power-play quarterback.
In exchange for helping the Black Hawks overcome their own salary cap problems, the Islanders traded Ville Pokka and T.J Brennan, a defenseman who scored almost a point-per-game in the AHL last year but who was not considered good enough for the Leafs to retain despite their anemic defense group. Since the Islanders signed him this past July 1st as a free agent, he is basically found money.
Pokka, also a defenseman, is a bit of a project. Drafted in the 2nd round in 2012, he is under-sized for an NHL defenseman, but does have great puck moving skills. He was not considered one of the Islanders top prospects.
This is a great day to be an Islanders fan. While Garth Snow is a much maligned GM, his draft record and trade record are much better than he is given credit for. These are a pair of absolute steals. Adding these two players to a group that includes Travis Hamonic, Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey, Lubomir Visnosky as well as the more than decent Matt Donovan and elite prospect Griffin Reinhart gives the Islanders one of the best groups of defesemen in hockey.
By rescuing two of the top teams in hockey from salary cap trouble, the Islanders have positioned themselves to rocket up the standings this season. By doing so without losing a single asset from their team, the Islanders have kicked off the 2015 season with a bang sure to upset the balance of power in the Eastern Conference.
Covering the Leafs for the Hockey Writers.