New York Islanders Buyout Looming for Johnny Boychuk
By Tim Ryder
This season has been revealing in many ways for the New York Islanders. Their prospects are coming along nicely and, even in the face of a never-ending list of injuries, the Islanders are still in the playoff hunt. Although after the season, there will be some tough decisions to make.
The New York Islanders can buy out the remaining portion of Johnny Boychuk‘s contract at the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Finals in June. Considering the trajectory of this franchise and the amount of talent coming through the system, as well as an intriguing free-agent market, the Islanders should think about parting ways with Boychuk.
Johnny Boychuk has been exactly what the Islanders envisioned he would be when they signed him after acquiring him in a trade with the Bruins. In his time as an Islander, Boychuk’s been able to combine veteran leadership, tough play, and even fit the occasional offensive outburst into his repertoire. He has, unfortunately, had a knack for getting hurt over his Isles tenure, but there’s no question the positives have outweighed the negatives.
When the New York Islanders signed Boychuk prior to the 2014-15 season, they were signing a 30-year-old, top-four defenseman who would give their young defensive unit instant credibility. In his time in the Blue & Orange, Johnny Boychuk has done just that. Unfortunately, the seven-year, $42 million contract Boychuk signed has become an albatross for the Islanders.
How would Johnny Boychuk’s buyout affect the New York Islanders?
According to CapFriendly.com, the New York Islanders can buy out Johnny Boychuk’s contract once the 2018 Stanley Cup Finals have ended. Let’s estimate that date as June 15th. Boychuk will have $15 million remaining on his contract once this season concludes. The buyout would be spread out over eight years. Let’s take a look how that would affect the Islanders salary cap.
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Boychuk is due $6 million per year until 2022. If the Islanders were to buy him out, that money would be evenly deferred over eight years. That would cost the Isles $1.25 million per year until the end of the ’22 season. The buyout’s salary cap hit would be $1.25 million in 2018-19, $6 million per year for 2019-20 and 2020-21, and then $1.25 million per year until 2025-26.
Although it would considerably extend the amount of time the New York Islanders would be paying Johnny Boychuk, the money it would free up annually could be game-changing in the Isles quest to build a perennial Stanley Cup contender.
The lasting effects of Boychuk’s buyout on the New York Islanders
Let’s say the Islanders make a trade for Oliver Ekman-Larsson before the February 26th trade deadline. For the rest of this season, the New York Islanders top two defensive pairings would be absolutely stacked.
If the 2018-19 NHL salary cap is what experts expect it to be, which is around $75-$85 million, the Islanders will have enough money to re-sign their incumbent unrestricted free-agent stars, re-up their restricted free agents, and make a few modest free-agent additions.
If they had Boychuk’s earmarked $6 million to also work with, it would give the New York Islanders a lot more freedom to make necessary upgrades moving forward.
Obviously, the New York Islanders want to add a star via trade this year, make a splash in free agency this offseason, and greatly improve their chances to compete for the Stanley Cup for years to come. In order to accomplish all of this, when the time comes, they must buy out Johnny Boychuk.
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In 2020, when the New York Islanders are going for back-to-back Stanley Cup titles with Nick Leddy and OEL on the blue line and their current all-star first line of Tavares/Bailey/Lee still intact, they will be able to partly thank Johnny Boychuk’s buyout for it.