New York Islanders Johnny Boychuk has never played a full NHL season in his career. Does he play more or less than 61 games in 2018-19?
Johnny Boychuk, along with Nick Leddy were brought in on the same day in 2014 and immediately revolutionized the New York Islanders defense. For the first time in a long time, the Isles had a legitimate top pair.
As an unrestricted free agent leading up to 2015, Boychuk needed a new deal. The Isles signed the right-shot defensemen to a seven-year $42 million deal. Boychuk was 31-years-old.
He’ll be 35 in January. He’s by no means old, but he’s on the wrong side of 30. And for a player who plays a physical style like Boychuk. It takes a toll on a player. For Boychuk, that toll has already started to show it’s ugly head.
So can Johnny Boychuk play over or under 61 games in the 2018-19 season? Because the Isles are paying him $6 million a season, having him play 75 percent of the season would be nice.
Less Is More
Johnny Boychuk has been in the NHL full-time since 2009-2010. That’s nine years of NHL experience. Not once has Boychuk completed a full season.
Boychuk’s highest completion rate was 92 percent in 2012-13 when the NHL season was only 48 games long thanks to the lockout. Lockout shortened year aside, Boychuk’s highest completion rate was in 2011-12 when he played in 77 games, or 93 percent.
But since he arrived on Long Island, Boychuk’s completion rate has been steadily decreasing. Last season he featured in only 71 percent of the Islanders 82 games.
The way that Johnny Boychuk plays the game leaves him prone to injury. That tough physical, in your face style, will inevitably lead to a player missing a few games. Unfortunately with Boychuk’s combination of age and style of play comes a reduction in his efficiency.
He’s no good to the team if he’s missing so many games. The problem for the New York Islanders is that they didn’t have someone that could come in and take minutes off of Boychuk. Until Ryan Pulock stepped up last season.
With the emergence of Pulock, the Islanders now have a right-handed defenseman that they can pair with Nick Leddy and place Boychuk on the second pairing. The Islanders can now have Johnny Boychuk play an average of 18-19 minutes a night and hopefully keep him around longer.
With that, the answer to whether or not Johnny Boychuk will pay more or less than 61 games this season is more.
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I’m not saying Johnny Boychuk will play a full 82 game season in 2018-19, though I hope he does. But with a reduced workload, the Islanders can get more out of Boychuk. Getting 65-70 games in 2018-19 is completely reasonable.