New York Islanders Johnny Boychuk 2018-19 Expectations
What should the New York Islanders expect from their highest paid defenseman Johnny Boychuk in the 2018-19 NHL season? Maybe it won’t be more production, but it should be more availability.
Over the next four seasons, New York Islanders defenseman Johnny Boychuk takes up $6 million of their salary cap. Johnny Boychuk is also 34-years-old right now. In terms of the NHL, Johnny Boychuk is getting old.
With the amount the Islanders are still on the hook to pay Johnny Boychuk, the Isles need to maximize what he brings to the table. With the fact that Boychuk has never played a full season the Islanders could find that difficult to do.
Boychuk gets injured. Every year he sits out for a period of time. A combination of hard minutes, tough competition, and the physical way Boychuk plays the game factors into him missing time.
But with youth being injected into the blueline we should expect Boychuk to play close to a full season and return approximately 20 points in 2018-19.
The Ryan Pulock Effect
Since coming over via trade on October 4th, 2014 Johnny Boychuk has paired up with Nick Leddy on the Isles top defensive unit. They’ve been fairly effective together. But at 34 going on 35 playing those top minutes is going to be tough on Boychuk.
Again, Boychuk has never played a full NHL season in his eleven-year career. In fact, since 2013-14 his availability has steadily decreased year-after-year from a high of 77 games played in 2013-14 to 58 games played last season.
With Ryan Pulock emerging last season, the New York Islanders have a righty who can take Boychuk’s spot on the top pair.
Pulock has more offensive upside with 32 points in his rookie season. Boychuk’s career-high is 35 points. Pulock has a similar cannon slap shot from the blueline as Boychuk, Pulock can run a power play, and Pulock is just as physical.
Last season Boychuk tossed 114 hits over 58 games or just under two per game (1.96). In 68 games Pulock had 113 hits or 1.66 hits per game. Pulock isn’t shy to use his body on the ice.
Fans should expect Johnny Boychuk to have a reduced role on the New York Islanders defense. Some of my Eyes on Isles colleagues see him as a third pair guy, but I think Johnny Boychuk still has a ton to offer the Islanders.
When healthy Boychuk can be a foreboding presence on the ice. He’s great at full strength and just about as good on the power play. Giving Boychuk about two to three minutes less a night makes sense. It keeps him fresher, keeps him around longer during the season, and maximizes his impact on the ice.
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In 2018-19 with fewer minutes, Johnny Boychuk should be able to play 70-75 games. Still not a full season, but that would be the most he’s played since 2014-15. With a longer season, I can see him adding in around 20 points.