Editorials

New York Islanders 2017-18 Way Too Early Defensive Pairings

By Matt O'Leary
NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18: Johnny Boychuk #55 and Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders in action against the New Jersey Devils on February 18, 2017 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Islanders 3-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)
NEWARK, NJ - FEBRUARY 18: Johnny Boychuk #55 and Nick Leddy #2 of the New York Islanders in action against the New Jersey Devils on February 18, 2017 at Prudential Center in Newark, New Jersey. The Devils defeated the Islanders 3-2. (Photo by Jim McIsaac/Getty Images) /
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The New York Islanders have a lot of depth at the defense position, let’s take a way-too-early look at the potential defensive pairings for this year.

With Travis Hamonic no longer in the picture, the New York Islanders defensive pairings are going to look rather different. Despite a down season, his loss is going to be felt initially by the Isles, but don’t worry there is a lot of potential depth on the blue line. Let’s start by taking a look at the projected top pair.

Nick Leddy – Johnny Boychuk

These two just make sense together. They were both brought over via trade right on the eve of the 2014-2015 season in what is regarded as one of the best moves of the Garth Snow era. The two signed long term with the Isles after that season as well, they are under contract with the team through the 2021-2022 season.

Last year Jack Capuano tried Nick Leddy and Travis Hamonic as the top pair, it didn’t work out too well as it seemed the pairing was constantly on the ice for goals. Hamonic ended up posting a minus 21 on the season while Leddy had a minus three.

Although to be fair, Leddy began to turn his season around once the pair was separated. The Leddy and Boychuk duo would be the Isles best defensive pairing by far.

You have Johnny Boychuk who is a physical, hard shooting, right-handed shot with the speedy Nick Leddy. The two can play off each other quite well in both zones and Isles fans should feel confident when those two are on the ice together.

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Calvin de Haan – Ryan Pulock

Ryan Pulock is finally free! One benefit of the Hamonic trade is that Pulock is all but guaranteed action this year. It was maddening watching a struggling power play last year with Pulock rotting away in Bridgeport.

Pulock, similar to Boychuk, is a right-handed shot with a monster cannon on him. Pulock showed it off in the 2016 playoffs with his power play goal in Game 3 against the Florida Panthers. There might be some growing pains as Pulock transitions to his first full season in the league but the potential is there.

It makes sense to pair him with the more defensive minded Calvin de Haan. The two can feed off each other rather nicely. This is of course under the assumption that a de Haan deal gets done, which it absolutely should, there’s no reason to believe it doesn’t.

You can be fairly confident in this pairing too. Pulock might make you scratch your head a few times in the defensive zone but you’ll quickly forget when he sends a 105 mile per hour one-timer past the opposing goalie.

Plus de Haan blocks enough shots for the two of them combined.

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Thomas Hickey – Dennis Seidenberg

This is a pretty solid third pairing. I wasn’t a huge fan of the Dennis Seidenberg signing last year (due to my fear of it blocking Pulock, which it did) but he ended up putting up solid numbers for the team last year so the Isles brought him back.

He put up 22 points, his first 20 point season since 2011-2012, and he also led the team in plus-minus with a plus 25.

As for Hickey we know what he is at this point in his career. He’s versatile, we saw him play left wing last year!  He’ll give you roughly 17 minutes of ice time playing decent defense and something close to 20 points.

It’s his overtime clutchness that we’ve grown to love from Hickey. He has a knack for scoring in big situations and that can’t be overlooked.

Extras

Remember we talked about that depth? The Islanders have a lot to choose from for their seventh d-man. The Isles have Adam Pelech (who they protected in expansion for some reason), Scott Mayfield, Devon Toews, Parker Wotherspoon and maybe even Sebastian Aho sooner than we think.

The initial duo for the seventh and eighth defensemen I think will be Pelech and Mayfield. But, don’t be surprised if we see Devon Toews at some point this year. He put up some impressive numbers in Bridgeport last year. The now 23-year old had a 45 point season in the AHL in 2016-2017, which should yield him a chance at some point this season.

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This potentially makes one of the more veteran guys expendable, but we will see what the Isles go with. This is called the way-too-early look at the defensive pairings because it’s still pretty early in the offseason, though, don’t expect much else to change here. You could probably pencil this in for October unless of course there’s an injury or even better a trade.

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