New York Islanders defensemen Johnny Boychuk seemed to take a step back in 2015-16 and was almost invisible during the playoffs.
The New York Islanders brought in veteran defensemen Johnny Boychuk a week before the start of their 2014-15 season, and it wasn’t just the statement made with the trade, but the statement made with his play, that immediately won the hearts of Islanders fans.
Boychuk was second among defensemen in points, scoring a career high 35 points, split between both career highs 9 goals and 26 assists.
He also proved to be a disciplined defender, with a +15 rating, and only 14 penalty minutes, the second lowest in his career.
Boychuk only had two points in the seven game first round series loss to Washington, but he was responsible for Alex Ovechkin, and held him to only five points in the seven games.
But in 2015-16, Boychuk regressed from his career year.
Maybe 2014-15 was his peak, or maybe he’s being utilized in a different role.
To clear things up, Johnny Boychuk did reduce in points in 2015-16, with 25. He tied his previous season with 9 goals, but only contributed 16 assists. He was +17, but had 31 penalty minutes.
However, Boychuk started 51.7% of his shifts in his own zone in 2015-16, and that is in comparison to 45.5% the previous year.
The reduction in offensive production is clear. He spends more time defending his net, than attacking the opponent’s.
New York Islanders
What seems to trouble New York Islanders fans the most, was Boychuk’s performance in the playoffs. He was held off the scoresheet in all 11 games, and was a -7.
He also gave away the puck eight times.
In spite of that, Boychuk started 54% of his shifts in the defensive zone, defending the forechecks of a young Florida Panthers and the resilient Tampa Bay Lightning.
Jack Capuano paired him with Calvin de Haan in the playoffs, and de Haan only managed two assists. de Haan started just under 60% of his shifts in the defensive zone, and was a -5.
Boychuk is not a bargain by any means with the Islanders having extended him through 2022 with $6,000,00 cap hit, and a no-move clause that requires his protection in the upcoming expansion draft.
While fans may be disappointed by his offensive production, it should be known that Boychuk will be utilized defensively, and will continue to start the majority of his shifts protecting his own goal.
The New York Islanders will likely use Boychuk on the penalty kill, and he will see little to no time at all on the power play. Cries for his rocket slap shot will soon be muffled when Ryan Pulock brings his 105 MPH slap shot along with his ability to quarterback a power play.
Boychuk’s future with the organization is yet to be seen.
The expansion draft allows teams to protect either seven forwards, three defensemen and one goalie, or eight skaters and a goalie. With roster forwards John Tavares and Andrew Ladd as well as the plethora of young forwards, Garth Snow is unlikely to sacrifice exposing three more forwards than he has to.
However, the defense corps is the best its been for quite some time. Travis Hamonic and Nick Leddy are both capable of playing top minutes every night, and are locked up for years, both at the age of 25.
Bluechip defensemen Ryan Pulock is ready for the big leagues, but because Boychuk is required to be protected by his no move clause, it is very likely one of Hamonic, Leddy, and Pulock could be chosen by the group in Las Vegas.
It is possible Garth Snow could ask Boychuk to waive his no movement clause for a trade elsewhere.
Whether or not that is something Johnny is willing to do is unknown.
He and his family seem to enjoy the area, and I would think he plans to finish his career in Brooklyn.
However if he does agree to be moved, and a trade at the right value is available, it will cause for a lot less anxiety at the expansion draft.
If he does stay, a stay at home shut down defensemen is a great commodity.
And the fact that he does have a rocket and offensive sense is a plus.
The New York Islanders got what they wanted with Johnny Boychuk; a veteran defensemen who brings leadership and championship experience, defensive responsibility, and the ability to chip in on the attack. His offseason will be motivated by a less than stellar postseason performance, and fans should expect Boychuk to play a season of disciplined shutdown defense.