The New York Islanders pulled off a one-two punch with cap-crunched teams Saturday, acquiring Johnny Boychuk and then Nick Leddy, who is joined by Rockford goalie Kent Simpson on his way to the Isles organization.
We dug up a few references to help familiarize you with the new acquisitions. Previously we focused on Simpson, the least known of the new acquisitions. Now here's a bit about Boychuk.
From Colorado to Boston, with an Austrian Lockout Sojourn
Boychuk had been with the Bruins since 2008, when he was acquired from Colorado (where he played just four games) in a trade for Matt Hendricks. The Avalanche had drafted him 61st overall in 2002.
He didn't become a regular until age 26, but now he's established himself in 321 NHL regular season games, plus 79 playoff games, including two Stanley Cup finals.
During the 2012 lockout, he played with Salzburg in Austria. So he and Michael Grabner will have something to talk about.
Here is a bit of what Stanley Cup of Chowder had to say about Boychuk in their 2013-14 report card:
This season he played like he was fighting for a new [contract]. Coming off arguably his best playoff performance in 2013, Boychuk steadily improved both his offensive and defensive game, and legitimized himself as currently* the Bruins third-best defenseman. (*Dougie Hamilton is hot on his heels)
Boychuk is Tough and Plays through Pain
Stories like this from the Globe are common with Boychuk (which honestly makes me cautious about re-signing him to too big a deal at age 30+, but that's for another month):
"After heading down the tunnel and walking around to determine how badly he was hurt, Boychuk returned to the bench and the ice.
And, promptly, took a slap shot to the same foot. He limped off, again.
Separate incident in the video below. This too looks like it hurt.
Boychuk Hits Things, Usually Hard
Here is a Top 10 video of Boychuk hitting people.
A Boston Favorite
For the above reasons, as well as his overall sense of humor, Boychuk was a favorite of Boston fans, jingoist announcers and hyperventilating columnists alike. In his initial reactions to the trade, he spoke of how he will miss Boston:
"I grew to love Boston. This is a pretty easy place to play. The fans really took me in, and I worked as hard as I could so people would appreciate me. This is the kind of town where they like those types of players.
"They liked that I would throw big hits on people, and sacrifice my body to help us win. It’s a working man’s town, and I always felt that love. I think it was just a really good fit for me, and the people are just [expletive] awesome."
(Apparently "wicked" is an expletive nowadays. I applaud this development in the style guide of life.)
Not like Boychuk doesn't know the deal though. The Bruins had a decision to make, and they chose to part with him:
"You know…I’m excited. I’m excited because I think I’ll get a chance for a bigger role there," said Boychuk. "Who knows? I’m just going to go there and work hard, and do what I do best. The Bruins decided they wanted to do something else, so I’m going to embrace the chance to play on the island."
But He's an Islander Now
Boychuk is ready for a new, bigger role with a team on the rise:
"I know that I'm going to be having a bigger role here than what it was in Boston. I'm up for the challenge and I can't wait get to get in front of these fans."
From his NHL Network interview:
"It feels great [being an Islander]. It's exciting with a new start and new chapter in my career with a new place to come and play a lot."
Travis Hamonic can get behind that, with Boychuk and fellow acquisition Nick Leddy:
"Both guys [are] great players. I'm pretty thrilled with the additions Garth [Snow, general manager] made," Hamonic said. "Really good moves. I don't know how he does it, but he had two good pickups. I think both guys bring something a little bit different to the table that we didn't necessarily have back there."
At 6'2, 225 lbs., and a righty shot, Boychuk and Hamonic will make the right side of the Islanders defensive zone a scary place for opponents to tread.
Thankfully, and with sincerity, he'll fit right in.