Islanders lock up Johnny Boychuk, what a difference a year makes
The New York Islanders were certainly a young and promising team last year. John Tavares showed flashes of MVP brilliance until an unfortunate injury at the Olympics derailed their season. Still, the Isles were having a hard time attracting and keeping talent.
Case in point, Thomas Vanek. Before he even pulled an Islanders sweater over his head coming from Buffalo he was thinking exit strategy. Garth Snow traded for the rights to Dan Boyle during the offseason, but his eyes were on the flashier and clear contender NY Rangers.
For Garth Snow he needed some luck and it came in the form of two capped strapped teams, Chicago and Boston. Nick Leddy (CHI) and Johnny Boychuk (BOS) were both set to become UFA’s this summer and instead of losing them for nothing, their teams moved them.
Had they been free agents this past summer, the likelihood that even one of them would’ve signed with the Islanders was slim. However, 40+ wins later and both players are locked up for the longterm.
First, Snow got Leddy to sign for 7 years at $38.5M with a cap hit of $5.5M. Then he was able to secure Boychuk for 7 years also. Boychuk will make $42M on this deal with an AAV of $6M. In the matter of less than a year, two players who were likely thinking how do I get out here too are now seeing things Blue and Orange.
You have to give Snow some credit. In the face of some difficult recruiting and marketing factors he’s been able to build a strong team that has surprised a few people this season.
As the Islanders prepare to move to the Barclay Center in Brooklyn, attracting top level talent in the UFA market should be easier. The prospects of the Islanders getting even better should give their cross town rivals some worry going forward. It should also put the league on notice that the Islanders return to contention is no fluke and could last awhile.