It wasn’t exactly an 11:59:59 deal for a defenseman, but it was critical. Johnny Boychuck and Nick Leddy are now New York Islanders.
With Lubomir Visnovsky dealing with back spasms and some prized rookies taking bumps in preseason play, Garth Snow stopped waiting around for blueline improvement. Nor did he pay July prices.
Johnny Boychuck heads to Long Island for two 2nd round picks and a conditional 3rd round, which will go to Boston only if the Islanders trade him within the East at any point during the 2014-15 season. He was considered by many the key piece to the Bruins’ defense corps going forward while simultaneously tagged as the best available spare part. Hmm.
Nick Leddy was the core to a more significant deal. Going to Chicago was blue chip defense prospect Ville Pokka, recently signed defenseman TJ Brennan, and goaltender Anders Nilsson. Added to the deal from the Chicago end was goalie Kent Simpson.
Boychuck and Leddy are not definitive Number One Defenseman, but they are 2-4 players who can provide an offensive game and own-zone responsibility. They will make the Islanders’ blueline immediately and exponentially better than the group that finished the 2013-14 season.
What more, this will give Griffin Reinhardt and Ryan Pulock time. In the immediate, time to recover from minor injuries suffered this preseason. In the long term, both players now will have time to grow into their games back in Junior and in Bridgeport, when the time comes. Not rushing a defenseman is critical. This helps.
With more seasoned and competent depth behind them, Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan can be the (projected) number one pairing. Focus on scoring, focus on shutting down opposition’s top lines.
Lubomir Visnovsky will appreciate the moves as well. At 38 years old, and working through post-concussion back spasms, time is not exactly on his side but his health will benefit.
What’s interesting is the cost factors for each player. Boychuck cost multiple uppder-mid picks, the favorite poker chip of Garth Snow. Why include the conditional 3rd if Boychuck is a permanent addition? Reports out of Boston show that the room was devastated by the move yet GM Peter Chiarelli labeled the trade as just a business move. Boychuck had the dubious honor of being both the prime trade piece and the future. Odd. Fortuitous but odd.
Leddy cost things. Not the most valuable of things but things nonetheless. Ville Pokka is a young kid playing the European game like a man and his present future value is high. His expendable nature came from the long line of equally talented defenseman in line ahead of him. Anders Nilsson didn’t want to be assigned to Bridgeport once again, tried to call Snow’s bluff, so he went to Russia. TJ Brennan fulfilled his destiny to be useful for the Islanders roster. As Chicago needed to get under the cap, taking a depth defenseman and a disgruntled minor league goalie for a not-as-disgruntled minor league goalie was merely a reflection of how poorly their cap was managed. Still why did this feel like a shuffling of spare parts to move a good part?
The Islanders blueline is now exciting. Questioning parts of each trade should not deteriorate the quality of the moves or the positive impact these players will make. Hopefully these back stories will add to the savvy of the deals and the direction the team is going.