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Isles Thoughts from Elliotte Friedman: Happy Boychuk, Caps try to solve E=MC2

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They did what?
They did what?
Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

The Islanders don't often appear in Elliotte Friedman's indispensable 30 Thoughts column, but when they do, it's almost always with an item worth discussing.

In today's edition, Friedman has a few notes on the signing of Johnny Boychuk to a seven-year, $42 million extension, including insight into the negotiating process and some players that were less willing to say yes to Garth Snow's offers.

(and hey look at that. It's the first two Thoughts, too)

1. Very impressive off-ice victory for the New York Islanders getting Johnny Boychuk to sign. Five years ago, Dan Hamhuis, Paul Martin and Zbynek Michalek all took less money than the Islanders offered. Last summer, Jarome Iginla and Benoit Pouliot took one less year than the Islanders offered.

Getting Boychuk and Nick Leddy locked-in signifies a major change and they did it without completely blowing their salary structure. Their top three defenders - Boychuk, Leddy and Travis Hamonic - are signed until 2020 at a combined cap hit of just under $15.5M.

2. Before the season, you would've been hard-pressed to find a GM predicting Boychuk foregoing free agency to commit anywhere.

According to a couple of sources, the Islanders hoped to get it done at around a $5.8M AAV, but once they came up to $6M, it was good to go. Boychuk left money on the table, but likes his role and the team.

As Bob McCown once told me, "Don't (bleep) with happy." As for those who criticize signing a 31-year-old to a seven-year contract, understand Boychuk was getting that from somebody. Will it help that he played only five NHL games by age 25? Does that mean he's got more mileage?

I don't think we previously discussed Michalek and Pouliot being in the Islanders plans, so this might be some fresh news. Pouilot left the Rangers and signed a five-year, $20 million contract with Edmonton last Summer. Michalek signed an identical five-year contract with the Penguins back in 2010 after his trade from the Coyotes. The Penguins sent him back to Arizona in 2012 and he's playing out his contract with St. Louis now after a deadline move.

Either probably would have helped the Islanders; Pouliot similarly to the versatile role that Mikhail Grabovski was playing between his injuries and Michalek pushing the play like Nick Leddy or Boychuk, albeit without the same offense. In retrospect, things probably worked out for the better.

But Friedman doesn't stop at the Boychuk stuff and offers another interesting nugget about the Islanders having an affect on a direct rival.

You need to play a speed game and a heavy game. We know they can play fast, but Ward is an important piece when they flex their muscle. According to some Eastern opponents, the Capitals do play tougher than they get credit for.

12. That's also one of the reasons GM Brian MacLellan looked at Polak, then traded for Tim Gleason.

The Islanders' fourth line - Casey Cizikas, Cal Clutterbuck and Matt Martin - is a dangerous animal, bad news for someone like Mike Green. MacLellan wanted to get a bigger body next to Green, to help him deal with what Don Cherry called the best fourth line in the NHL, if necessary.

We give Jack Capuano much grief for prioritizing TEH GRITZ over more skilled players we'd prefer get more ice time. And while this shouldn't justify leaving goals in the pressbox for guys who make their living hitting other guys on skates, it's clear that others around the league have taken notice of what Butch Goring calls the "E=MC2" line and want to neutralize it in the rough and tumble playoffs. So it's not just Don Cherry.

Finally, Friedman drops a few notes tangentially related to John Tavares, who is also being noticed this year, to say the least.

13. The Coyotes are now working with Dawn Braid, the power-skating instructor who helped John Tavares reach new heights. She met with GM Don Maloney when the team travelled through Toronto. Never a bad idea when you have so many young players.


14. Speaking of Tavares, the Hart vote this year is going to be something. Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Rick Nash, Alexander Ovechkin, Carey Price, Tavares...good luck with this one. Don't know if it's ever been this wide-open.

The article contains much more info on the future of video review and many notes from the St. Louis Blues. It's nice to see interesting Islanders content in it, but you should be reading 30 Thoughts every week anyway.