New York Islanders Should Be Looking To Make Big Offseason Splash

The signings of Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy should prompt New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow to be more aggressive this offseason.

Yesterday the New York Islanders inked defenseman Johnny Boychuk to a seven year, $42 million contract that will keep the blue liner with the Isles through 2022.  

This move, coupled with the similar contract signed by Nick Leddy in February, has given the Islanders long term security in their D-corps at the NHL level, but it also transitions the Islanders into a different phase as an organization.

At this year’s NHL trade deadline the Isles were active in supplying needed depth to their roster in areas that were sorely in need. The team has been hit with injury troubles among the forwards prompting the Isles to deal a conditional draft choice to acquire Tyler Kennedy.

A glaring need behind Jaroslav Halak in goal forced general manager Garth Snow to look outside the organization, he managed to swap the underachieving Chad Johnson and a draft pick for Michael Neuvirth. Both moves were solid, need based transactions, but they are stop gaps.

Signing Leddy and Boychuk  long term changes the way Snow should approach trades going forward.

Neither really changed much for this organization. I view this hockey team today as I did before they made either move: good enough to win a round or two in the playoffs, not good enough to win a Stanley Cup. Given that this blog caters to Isles fans I understand that this opinion is not going to be popular with the

very few

people who read it, but it is how I perceive things.

Signing Leddy and Boychuk  long term changes the way Snow should approach trades going forward. Right now there are no moves to be made, as the trade deadline has come and gone, but this offseason Garth Snow would be wise to become active in the trade market.

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Trading mid-level picks for short term fixes is part of his job, but it is time for a blockbuster, an organization changer. It is time for this team to swap one of it’s highly touted prospects for an impact NHL player who can help them get over the hump. The Isles have a two defensive prospects in particular in Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock who could be the centerpiece in such a deal. The recent signings have made one of them expendable.

With the teams top four regular defensemen locked up, Boychuk and Leddy until 2022, Travis Hamonic until 2020 and Calvin de Haan until 2017, that leaves only two regular roster spots. Thomas Hickey has provided steady, third pair play all season long and has proven to be durable as well, missing only one game over the past two seasons. He will be a restricted free agent in June, and I would assume the Isles will bring back Hickey as regular in their lineup. Veteran d-man Lubomir Visnovsky is an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season, but it is doubtful the isles would bring him back for another year.

With two big-time prospects knocking on the NHL’s door and only one spot to put them, losing one in exchange for a big time winger to play with John Tavares, or anchor his own line, seems like the right move for the franchise.

Boychuk, the team’s top d-man, is 31 years old, giving a player that age a contract of that length and salary provides the Isles a window in which they must strike in an attempt to bring home a Stanley Cup.

Boychuk will produce at a level comparable to his salary for a a good chunk of his stay in the Orange and Blue, but it is unlikely that at 37 and 38 years old he will still be a top-pair defenseman, making his cap number more detrimental to the team as time goes on.

The Isles have taken tremendous strides this year, cementing themselves as one of the East’s best teams, and securing the foundations that will keep them in playoff contention for years to come. There next challenge is to build a team that can contend for, and win, a Stanley Cup.