With Johnny Boychuk out, the New York Islanders will turn to Thomas Hickey in their time of need. He should be just fine as a replacement for Boychuk.
Losing Johnny Boychuk isn’t going to be an easy thing to overcome for the New York Islanders. The veteran blueliner was having a bounce-back year and stayed relatively healthy throughout the regular season.
In his place will step Thomas Hickey. Hickey only played 40 games this year with four points (0 goals, 4 assists) and he was relatively fine in the games he played. The Islanders just had a better fit with Leddy, Pelech, and Toews as the lefty d-men, which is what led to Hickey being scratched most nights.
After playing 60 or more games for the Islanders in the last five seasons, Hickey’s role was diminished this season. That doesn’t mean that he can’t handle playoff hockey.
For a smaller guy, just six-foot and 183 pounds, Hickey can get pretty physical. The perfect example of this came in the 2016 playoffs:
Hickey’s game isn’t perfect, but he plays like a defenseman with another three inches and 30 pounds on him. In addition to the surprising physicality he can bring, Hickey has a knack for clutch scoring.
He’s had his fair share of overtime game-winning goals, including this one from Game 3 of the Florida Panthers series:
While I would much rather Johnny Boychuk in the lineup Hickey is a more than capable replacement player. When you look around the league at other seventh defensemen, you’d be hard pressed to find one better than Thomas Hickey.
For a good chunk of the year, Luca Sbisa filled that role for the Islanders. If it was Sbisa or Dennis Seidenberg filling in for Boychuk I’d be a lot more concerned.
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