The announcement of Johnny Boychuk's seven-year contract extension with the Islanders blew the doors off a sleepy late-season Thursday (unless you count Leafs call-ups and Philadelphia media meltdowns as "news"). And while we were having our own processor-punishing gif party here, writers were chiming in with their opinions of Boychuk's payday.
The consensus seems to be that the deal is a good one in the short term for the Islanders, who retain an important piece of their resurgent line-up at a reasonable cap hit that could not be replaced completely. The downside is that signing an already 31-year-old physical defenseman is a risk most teams should avoid. Unless Boychuk is a mutant or just very lucky, his body will begin to wear down halfway into the deal, making the back half tricky to navigate.
But the thumbs are mostly up for Boychuk, his D-partner Nick Leddy (who also signed a seven-year extension), Garth Snow and the club's future.
Adam Gretz at CBS Sports:
Given his age, the term and dollar figure on Boychuk's deal, it could become an issue in the future (how much are the Islanders going to get out of a 35-or 36-year-old Johnny Boychuk at $6 million per year?), but in the short-term the Islanders have their top defense pairing locked up for just under $12 million per year. And for right now, that is a pretty good deal.
Even though the Islanders are near the bottom of the league in terms of goals against and on the penalty kill this season, their top defensive pairing has been a consistent bright spot.
Leddy and Boychuk have played nearly 800 minutes of 5-on-5 ice-time together this season while the Islanders own a 36-21 goals advantage over their opponents and control close to 57 percent of the shot attempts (via Puckalytics).
Jonathan Willis at Bleacher Report on age comparisons:
The Islanders, however, really had very little choice but to take that chance.
Boychuk has been a big part of New York's resurgence this year. An Islanders team that has been a laughingstock for years is suddenly a contender, and Boychuk is helping everywhere. He leads the team in ice-time while shorthanded and contributes a booming right-handed shot on the power play point. He's also been fantastic at even-strength; when he's on the ice the Islanders out-score the opposition by nearly a two-to-one margin and have a whopping 37-25 edge in shots over an average hour. It's all but impossible to replace that kind of contribution at the best of times, and with a weak free agent crop and a lot of futures already shipped out to bring Boychuk and others in this is hardly the best of times.
Ben Valentine of The Sporting News:
This deal could certainly look lousy after the 2017-18 season, when the Isles have a bunch of free agents and Boychuk is another three years older with four years left. It's also possible the Islanders, a Stanley Cup contender this year with a young team, will have won it all once, or multiple times in the interim. It's also possible the salary cap goes up. Three years is an eternity in pro sports.
Greg Wyshynski of Puck Daddy on Snow's maneuvers:
In acquiring Boychuk from the Boston Bruins and defenseman Nick Leddy from the Chicago Blackhawks, Snow was lucky. Two NHL contenders didn't have the cap room to keep either of them - both free agents this summer - and the Islanders plucked them like ripe fruit off a crowded vine. They've been arguably one of the top five defensive pairings in the NHL this season.
Now Snow had two players familiar with the organization and with each other. He had two players that knew what he was building, and that it was getting results, as the Islanders challenged for a division title. He even had two players that knew, if they signed long term, that the old barn they were stuck in was in its last season hosting the Islanders before the move to Brooklyn.
Johnny Boychuk Fan Club President Joe Haggerty of CSN New England.
Boychuk probably could have earned an even richer deal on the free agent market as the premier defenseman available. He's raised his profile on Long Island this season while establishing himself as the No. 1 defenseman for the Islanders and a part of their core group that should be shooting for Cups over the next 3-5 years with John Tavares and Kyle Okposo in their primes.
Eternal poo-pooer of all things Islanders, Ken Campbell of The Hockey News, on the team's dramatic turnaround.
My goodness, has any general manager reinvented himself better than Garth Snow has? Once regarded as the backup goalie who was the ill-advised hire of a bizarre owner, Snow is putting himself into serious contention for the NHL's GM of the year award.
(good thing ol' Ken got an Alexei Yashin reference in there or else he might not have slept tonight.)
Finally, here's the man of the afternoon saying he re-upped with the New York Islanders mainly because of "how good we are." Let that sink in for a minute.