The New York Islanders dropped one, then two happy bombs on the NHL Saturday, acquiring defensemen Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy from cap-crunched Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks, respectively.
After a busy day of tracking the news, here are some of the reactions and quotes from the key parties:
Why the Moves Were Made
Snow on the offseason moves in total, at Newsday:
"We had looked to upgrade in a few different areas this summer," Snow said. "We addressed for the most part the forward position and the goaltending. And it just so happened today we were able to add two key additions to our team. It's obviously a good day for our club."
Was the trade some kind of statement? You know, like the Isles are for real?
"The statement being made is we’re committed to making our team better," Snow told The Post. "That’s the biggest message. You always look to upgrade our team, and these two players are going to do that."
Snow said he felt his team's deep prospect base allowed him to make both trades and hopes fan base is "pumped up."— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 4, 2014
Players Sorry to Go, but It's a Business, etc.
Also in the Post, on reaching out to Boychuk, who had to leave the team he liked (and which liked him) solely for cap reasons:
"I was traded a couple times as player, and it’s always sad when you realize you’re not going to be playing with the same teammates," Snow said. "But when you get to the new team, and walk in the locker room, it’s exciting to be with a new team. That’s what he said — he’s excited to be with our young team and is looking forward to playing with them."
Leddy too was disappointed to leave the place where he won the Stanley Cup, but also relieved as the writing was on the wall. Per the Chicago Tribune:
Leddy's agent, Neil Sheehy, said he spoke with Bowman on Friday and the GM told him, "there were a number of things that were in play and he said he didn't know how it was going to shake out. The deal came (Saturday). It wasn't unexpected after the events of (Friday)."
Leddy felt a sense of relief once the trade was made, according to Sheehy.
"There's nothing worse than being in no-man's land," Sheehy said. "As an athlete, you just want to know where you're at. Once the decision was made, it turned to one of excitement of something new and going to an up-and-coming team."
Other Teams Finished Second in the Summer-Long Bidding
Teams in the Hawks and Bruins' cap situations tend to wait until as late as possible to free themselves from the crunch, in case something else (like a long-term injury, or a more desperate trade partner) emerges. Snow was vague on details but said that, no surprise, the trades had been in the works for a while:
"It’s not a situation where it came out of nowhere," he said. "We had been communicating with both teams for a period of time now and it all came to fruition today. It’s a good day for our hockey club and obviously an exciting day for our fans. We ended up landing two top-four defensemen."
From the same story at the Isles official site, Snow on whether the Islanders could afford the loss of four to six assets:
"We have a pretty good prospect pool of defensemen; Reinhart, Pulock, Mayfield, Pelech," Snow said. "Which makes the draft picks (two seconds and a conditional third) a little more expendable when you get a quality return in John Boychuk."
Of course, while Snow was the winner on Saturday, other team's GMs either fielded the traditional "Why didn't YOU get them?" question, or were all too happy to let it be known they tried but didn't have the droids the Hawks and Bruins were looking for.
Someone leaked to Greg Lawless that a "serious package" was offered by the Jets for Leddy, while ex Hawks GM and current Panthers GM Dale Tallon went on record saying he had "serious negotiations" for both players.
Bruins are Sad Pandas
The Bruins players will really, really miss Boychuk. Sad quotes all around. It probably hurts worse that there aren't live bodies coming the other way.
Julien on Boychuk: "We're all disappointed to see him leave."— Nicholas W. Goss (@NickGossNESN) October 5, 2014
Zdeno Chara on Boychuk: "Always loyal and always willing to do whatever is being asked of him."— Nicholas W. Goss (@NickGossNESN) October 5, 2014
Julien on the trade: "It stings for everybody."— Fluto Shinzawa (@GlobeFluto) October 5, 2014
"This is a tough trade. We all like Johnny," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "... He was upset, I was upset, I'm still upset."
But, at least the Bruins GM thinks he played this right.
Chiarelli: "Part of my job is to value the market. Johnny's value was going up and he's earned it."— Bruins Daily (@BruinsDaily) October 4, 2014
Chiarelli: "I feel we got very valuable return - we can use those picks to draft players or acquire players" ^CS— Boston Bruins (@NHLBruins) October 4, 2014
There is some debate as to Leddy's true value, as he's often been on the third pairing in Chicago and had some stalls in his development after being acquired from the Minnesota Wild. The Tribune again, on that topic:
Possessing blazing speed, Leddy became a mainstay as the Hawks' fifth defenseman but saw his minutes dwindle in the playoffs the last two years as coach Joel Quenneville appeared to lose faith in him. In 258 regular-season games, Leddy had 20 goals and 73 assists — including seven goals and 24 assists last season.
"Nick loved his time in Chicago," Sheehy said. "But as a young player, he's excited about the opportunity to play with the good group of young players that the Islanders have."
FORGET THE NEWS, WHEN WILL THESE GUYS SIGN?!
Both new acquisitions are set to be free agents next summer (Boychuk UFA, Leddy RFA). Thankfully the Islanders have them for the upcoming 82-game season, which is the first priority.
NYI GM Garth Snow says there have been no extension talks with Boychuk (UFA) & Leddy (RFA). "We just dealt with the teams for now"...— Elliotte Friedman (@FriedgeHNIC) October 4, 2014
That's for later, probably much later as we see how they fit and how upcoming prospects like Ryan Pulock and Griffin Reinhart project to fit.
For now, get the new boys integrated, and realign your opening night top four.