Brian Strait

Report: Isles, Hickey closing in three-year pact around $6.5M


Sounds as though the New York Islanders are close to a deal with pending RFA blueliner Thomas Hickey.

Per Newsday’s sources, the contract extension is believed to be of the three-year variety, with Hickey pulling down “in the range of” $6.5 million total — a cap hit of around $2.16M.

For Hickey, 26, it’s a nice bump from the $675,000 he netted annually on his last deal.

The former Kings first-rounder was claimed off waivers by the Isles prior to the lockout-shortened ’13 campaign and has been a steady lineup presence ever since; he’s appeared in 82 and 81 games in consecutive seasons and both set and matched a career-high in points, with 22 each year.

Getting Hickey locked in was fairly important for the Isles, as they dealt away Griffin Reinhart at the draft and don’t expect to return Lubomir Visnovsky.

That puts Hickey in a top-six defensive group with Johnny Boychuk, Travis Hamonic, Nick Leddy, Calvin De Haan and Brian Strait, with youngsters like Ryan Pulock and Scott Mayfield looking to make the leap.

Isles say ‘no timetable’ for injured Hamonic (undisclosed)


One day before opening their playoff series against Washington, the Islanders were extremely tight-lipped on the status of injured defenseman Travis Hamonic.

“It’s undisclosed and there’s no timetable,” head coach Jack Capuano said, per Newsday. “When there is, I’ll let you know.”

Hamonic was knocked out of New York’s penultimate game of the season against Pittsburgh, following an early hip-check from Rob Scuderi (pictured).

He finished the game with just 5:46 TOI and didn’t play in Saturday’s season finale against Columbus — a game in which the Isles conceded four goals.

Playing without Hamonic (also per Newsday, it’s unclear if he’ll even travel to Washington) will be taxing for the Isles’ back end. The 24-year-old averaged nearly 22 minutes per night this season and broke out offensively, scoring a career-high 33 points in 71 games. Hamonic was also largely assigned the task of defending Alex Ovechkin during the Isles’ regular-season tilts against the Caps.

With Hamonic out, New York could ice a six-man defensive unit of Johnny Boychuk, Calvin de Haan, Thomas Hickey, Nick Leddy, Brian Strait and Lubomir Visnovsky, like they did against the Blue Jackets. Another option could be veteran Matt Donovan or Griffin Reinhart, the highly-touted 21-year-old that was recently recalled from AHL Bridgeport.

Isles’ Leddy replaced by Strait vs. Rangers

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Defenseman Nick Leddy will have his consecutive games played streak end at 320 tonight when the New York Islanders play host to the New York Rangers.

Leddy was injured in a collision with Leafs’ defenseman Morgan Rielly during the second period of Monday night’s 4-3 overtime win in Toronto. The 23-year-old appeared to be favoring his left shoulder on the bench prior to leaving the game.

Brian Strait, who has been a healthy scratch in four straight games, draws into the Islanders lineup tonight. Strait has appeared in 38 games this season scoring two goals and six points while averaging 18:27 in time on ice.

Leddy has 10 goals and 29 points to go along with a plus-17 rating while averaging over 20 minutes a night in ice time in 68 games this season.

Related: Islanders get Kyle Okposo back Tuesday

Isles to healthy scratch Visnovsky


Losers of three straight, the New York Islanders are shaking things up by parking veteran d-man Lubomir Visnovsky in the press box for tonight’s game against Philly.

“Brian” is Brian Strait, who’s played 27 times this year but hasn’t dressed since last Thursday’s loss to Boston.

(Strait was, as Capuano alluded to, part of the Isles’ last victory, a 4-1 win over the Rangers on Jan. 27.)

Visnovsky, who has 12 points in 31 games this year, has struggled over the last two games, going minus-3 while making a number of mental errors.

His turnovers against in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss to Florida were well documented (see here and here) and, having only recently returned from an upper-body injury that sidelined him for a month, Visnovsky could possibly use a night off to “recalibrate” or whatever other adjective people use in place of “go sit and watch for a while.”

Isles put Boychuk and Visnovsky on IR, recall Reinhart


The white-hot New York Islanders are facing their first bit of adversity this season.

The Isles, who currently lead the NHL with 18 wins, have placed veteran defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Lubomir Visnovsky on IR, the club announced Wednesday. With those two out, New York has summoned Griffin Reinhart — the fourth overall pick at the 2012 NHL Entry Draft — up from AHL Bridgeport.

Reinhart, 20, was the second blueliner taken in the loaded ’12 draft class, one that included fellow defensemen Ryan Murray, Morgan Rielly, Hampus Lindholm, Mathew Dumba, Derrick Pouliot and Jacob Trouba. Offensively, Reinhart’s been good for Bridgeport this season — two goals and eight points in 15 games — though he has posted a minus-8 rating (insert critique of plus-minus as a viable statistic here.)

The bigger story, though, is how the Isles will fare without Boychuk and Visnovsky in the lineup. It’s unclear for how long either will be shelved — both were placed on IR retroactively, to Nov. 27 and 28 respectively — but even in the short term, their absences will be felt; Boychuk led all Isles d-men in points (14) and averaged over 22 minutes a night while Visnovsky had six points in 17 games and was over 20 minutes a night himself.

The Isles also have a tough stretch of games coming up — from Dec. 6-13, they’ll take on some quality Western Conference opponents in St. Louis (x2), Minnesota and Chicago. With Boychuk and Visnovsky out of the lineup, the club’s top seven defensemen will be Reinhart, Calvin de Haan, Travis Hamonic, Thomas Hickey, Brian Strait, Nick Leddy and Matt Donovan.

The one saving grace, though, is that New York has built itself a nice cushion heading into this stretch. The Isles are tied with Pittsburgh on 36 points for the Metropolitan Division lead, and are third overall in the Eastern Conference.