Author: Mike Halford

Johnny Boychuk, Kyle Okposo

Snow praises Boychuk’s ‘immeasurable’ influence on Isles


To hear Garth Snow explain it, re-signing Johnny Boychuk was about more than just an extension.

“Johnny’s influence in our dressing room, both on and off the ice, has been immeasurable,” the Isles GM said upon announcing Boychuk’s seven-year, $42 million deal, per the club website. “His veteran presence is an asset that we are thrilled to help lead our club.”

The symbolism of Boychuk’s contract is obvious. For the first time in a long time, a veteran actually chose the Islanders; Christian Ehrhoff and Dan Boyle balked at the idea after Snow acquired their negotiating rights, and the Thomas Vanek thing… well, you know how that turned out.

That Boychuk opted not to test free agency is important, and shouldn’t be undersold. At 31, he could’ve gone unrestricted and likely been the prize of this summer’s defenseman class which, given the lucrative deals Matt Niskanen and Brooks Orpik signed in Washington, had to be tempting.

But Boychuk didn’t bite.

“Ever since I came to the Islanders, the organization has been incredible to both myself and my family,” Boychuk explained. “I am proud to be an Islander and look forward to competing every night in front of such a passionate fan base for many years to come.”

In terms of the Islanders’ on-ice product, the length of Boychuk’s contract is key. It represents another building block in a defensive foundation that should stand for years, as he, Nick Leddy (who’s seven-year, $38.5 million extension was meaningful as well) and Travis Hamonic are all under contract through 2020. Combined with a slew of young blueline prospects on the horizon — including a pair of former first-rounders in Ryan Pulock and Griffin Reinhart — the Isles should be absolutely loaded on defense for the foreseeable future.

Of course, the length of this deal could play a different role down the road.

Boychuk will be 38 when the contract expires, a scary number but one that’s part of doing business with a pending UFA. Snow had to sacrifice something in order to get Boychuk to agree to a fairly reasonable cap hit — it’s quite possible he could’ve received more money on the open market — and that sacrifice was term.

Snow agreed to this knowing the risk. Top-flight NHL defensemen are required to play a physical game and big minutes, neither of which help longevity, and we’re seeing that play out across the league this season — like in Boston, where Boychuk’s ex-teammate Zdeno Chara no longer appears to be the dominant force he once was.

Chara, not coincidentally, turns 38 next week.

But those concerns are for a later date. For an Islanders organization that’s headed back to the playoffs and entering its new Brooklyn-based digs next season, the time to strike is now. Today’s big signing confirms it.

(Video) PHT Extra: No Gio, no problem as Flames continue to defy odds

Anaheim Ducks v Calgary Flames

With last night’s big win over Anaheim, the Flames are now 4-0-1 since learning captain Mark Giordano would be lost for the year, and remain in third place in the Pacific Division — ahead of last year’s Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings.

How are the Flames doing it? I try to explain…

Johnny Be Rich: Isles sign Boychuk to seven-year, $42M extension

Carolina Hurricanes v New York Islanders

Johnny Boychuk has cashed in.

On Thursday, the Islanders announced they’ve signed Boychuk, their leading d-man scorer, to a seven-year, $42 million extension that carries an average annual cap hit of $6 million.

With the deal, Boychuk becomes the Islanders’ highest-paid player and remains locked in with the team through the 2021-22 campaign — much like fellow blueliner Nick Leddy, who inked a seven-year, $38.5 million deal a few weeks ago.

Boychuk, 31, came to the Islanders via trade just prior to the start of the regular season after a six-year stint with Boston. He emerged as a valuable, dependable blueliner with the B’s but has expanded upon that role on Long Island, having already set a career-high in points (32) despite only playing 59 games this season.

The new deal represents a significant raise from the $3.3M Boychuk was making annually on his previous deal, and is a nice agreement for both sides. Boychuk could’ve tested free agency this summer and would’ve likely gotten equal — if not higher — contract offers; Isles GM Garth Snow wasn’t prepared to let that happen, however, and locked in a stalwart defenseman at a reasonable cap hit in exchange for term (Boychuk will be 38 by the time this deal expires, which eventually could prove to be an issue.)

For the present and immediate future, though, the Isles appear to be set on defense. Boychuk now joins a core that includes the 23-year-old Leddy, 24-year-old Travis Hamonic (signed through 2020) and 23-year-old Calvin De Haan (signed through 2017); the club also has a slew of defensive prospects on the horizon, including former top-15 picks Ryan Pulock and Griffin Reinhart.

Flyers ink former World Junior gold medalist Bardreau

USA Hockey Junior Evaluation Camp - USA v Finland

The Philadelphia Flyers have inked another intriguing young free agent, signing Cornell forward Cole Bardreau to an entry-level contract.

Bardreau, 21, is a former U.S. National Development Team member that helped the Americans capture gold at the 2013 World Juniors in Russia — a team that featured Flyers defenseman Shayne Gostisbehere.

Two weeks after capturing gold — scoring three points in seven games, finishing with a plus-5 rating — Bardreau returned to Cornell and suffered a fractured C-7 vertebrae in the front and back of his neck on an illegal check. The injury cost him the remainder of his season, but Bardreau returned the following year and had a solid senior campaign this season, recording a career-high 22 points in 30 games to lead the team in scoring.

As mentioned above, Bardreau is just the latest undrafted free agent to join the Flyers. Earlier this week the club inked QMJHL sniper Danick Martel to an entry-level deal. Martel, 20, tore up the Quebec league this season with 48 goals and 102 points in just 63 games.

Goalie nods: Sens go back to the Hamburglar

Dallas Stars v Ottawa Senators

All the latest from the blue paint…

Anderson sits, Hammond starts

After saying Craig Anderson gave his team the best chance to win prior to Tuesday’s 3-1 loss to Boston, Ottawa head coach Dave Cameron flipped the script by announcing Andrew Hammond, not Anderson, would get the start for tonight’s tilt against Montreal.

Hammond — aka “The Hamburglar” — returns to the net after a two-game hiatus, looking to build on his eye-popping numbers: 7-0-1 record, .954 save percentage, 1.43 GAA and two shutouts in nine appearances. His return also comes at a crucial time for Ottawa, as the Sens blew a golden opportunity on Tuesday to close the gap on Boston’s lead in the Eastern Conference playoff chase; they head into tonight’s action seven points back of the B’s, albeit with a game in hand.

For Montreal, Carey Price will get the start in goal.


Bolts at Bruins: Ben Bishop vs. Tuukka Rask (probable)

Oilers at Pens: Ben Scrivens vs. Marc-Andre Fleury

Stars at ‘Canes: Kari Lehtonen vs. Anton Khudobin

Jets at Panthers: Michael Hutchinson vs. Dan Ellis

Jackets at Wings: Sergei Bobrovsky vs. Jimmy Howard

Flyers at Blues: Steve Mason vs. Brian Elliott

Devils at Avs: Cory Schneider vs. Semyon Varlamov (probable)

Kings at Canucks: No confirmed starters for either team.

Blackhawks at Coyotes: Corey Crawford vs. Mike Smith

Preds at Sharks: (No starter for Nashville yet) vs. Antti Niemi