Andy Graziano, SNY.TV Twitter
Brian Erni and I continue our annual season review, taking a look back at the 2016-17 Islanders and analyzing each player's performance in a down season that saw the team miss the playoffs by one point.
We will be offering two reviews per week that will take us right through to the beginning of training camp in September 2017. Of course, there are a couple of things to sort out prior, such as potential trades that could alter the look of this franchise going forward and oh, yeah, that pesky John Tavares extension.
Contract details via nhlnumbers.com and stats courtesy of hockeyreference.com.
55 - Johnny Boychuk - Defense
6-2, 227 lbs
33 years old
Contract: $6.000m cap hit through 2021-22 (NMC), unrestricted free agent
Season: 66 GP, 6 G - 17 A - 23 Pts, 19 PIM, 155 Shots, 20:44 TOI, 49.1 Corsi
Career: 529 GP, 43 G - 115 A - 158 Pts, 262 PIM, 1153 Shots, 20:32 TOI, 53.3 Corsi
Boychuk is quite a late bloomer in NHL terms, breaking into the league as a 26-year-old in the 2009-10 season with the Bruins after being drafted 61st overall by the Avalanche in the 2002 amateur draft.
A Stanley Cup winner with the 2011 Boston squad, Boychuk brought his ring and experience to the Islanders with Nick Leddy just prior to the start of the 2014-15 season, as Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli was facing a salary cap crunch that allowed Garth Snow to take advantage and acquire the pair for a pittance.
Now, as he is about to enter his fourth season with the team, Boychuk has become an emotional leader on and off the ice and one of the most colorful members of a tight-knit locker room that has had some repairing to do over the last year with the departures of some long-tenured veterans.
Boychuk has picked up his offense from early in his career, improving his 82-game prorated points from 18 over his first four years to 31 over the last four, although he has declined each of his first three seasons with the Islanders, from 35-25-23.
Always hovering around the 20 minute mark in ice-time, Boychuk's booming slap shot is clearly underutilized on the power play, where he has not been used on the first unit, with Jack Capuano and Doug Weight preferring a 4 forward-1 defenseman setup, with that defenseman being Leddy.
If there is a moderate concern with Boychuk, with five years remaining on his contract, it's his durability. Second on the team over the last three years in hits taken (Thomas Hickey is first), Boychuk has played 84 percent of all eligible games in his career but has seen that take a consistent dip year-to-year since 2013-14 (91-88-85-80). He has missed 38 games in three seasons with New York.
IPB Grade: B- : Boychuk bounced back from a down 2015-16 to have a solid season last year, logging 20:44 while putting up 23 points in 66 games with 160 hits and 133 blocks. He played more like he did in his first season with the team rather than his second and his locker room personality is, honestly, invaluable. With the aforementioned durability issues out there, Boychuk needs to continue to keep up with a league that is seemingly getting faster by the minute. If he can't, five years with a no-movement clause might feel like 10 to the organization.