The New York Islanders may be missing Johnny Boychuk for Game 2 due to injury. Here are the top 4 Isles d-men who could replace him.
Saturday afternoon was a great day for the New York Islanders:
They finally returned to the ice in a competitive game and took a 1-0 series lead after beating the Florida Panthers 2-1. The Isles played a great all-around game and stifled one of the best offenses in the NHL. But with all the positives in the game, there was one major negative.
If Boychuk is indeed out for Game 2, Barry Trotz and the Islanders will have to look to the bench and fill the gap that Boychuk left on the blue line.
Here are the top four options for the Islanders to replace an injured Johnny Boychuk:
4. Sebastian Aho
This is one name that Islander fans have heard a lot this year. Sebastian Aho has not played a competitive hockey game since the 2018-2019 season with the Bridgeport Sound Tigers.
He’s been on and off the Islanders roster for a good chunk of the season but has yet to dress for a game. Back in the 2018 season, Aho played 22 games with the Islanders, where he scored one goal, had three assists, four points, a -5 +/-, and averaged 16:15 minutes of ice per game.
Aho is known for his terrific skating ability and his vision on the ice. This is shown in his Elite Prospects scouting report:
"A mobile defenseman with tremendous hockey sense. Is on the small side, but usually solves situations easily with his exceptional way of reading the game. Likes to carry the puck and does that with confidence. Very good passer and a defenseman that can be used in most situations. (EP 2014)"
There is an extremely small chance that Aho dresses for game two, but he does provide a nice option to the Islanders’ coaching staff.
3. Thomas Hickey
Its been a while since Islander fans have last seen Thomas Hickey put on the blue and orange for a game, but he is a wildcard option to dress in place of Boychuk.
Hickey’s last NHL game was on May 3rd, 2019 when the Islanders bowed out of the playoffs against the Carolina Hurricanes. Hickey finished that game with a -3 plus/minus in 18:29 of ice time.
Since then, it has been a roller coaster ride for Hickey. He did not make the Islanders out of training camp and started this season in Bridgeport. He suffered a couple of injuries while skating for the Sound Tigers, but he did receive a call up in early March.
Hickey has had his fair share of playoff experience with the Islanders. He has played in 24 playoff games with the Islanders, where he had one goal, five assists, six points, -5 +/-, and averaged 19:57 of ice time per playoff game.
His one playoff goal did come in overtime against the Islanders current opponents, the Florida Panthers, back in game three in the first round of the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs:
It has been a while since Hickey has played an NHL game, so I can guarantee he would love to stay in the lineup if he gets the chance. He may provide a spark if granted the opportunity.
2. Noah Dobson
The youngest and only right-handed defenseman on this list, Noah Dobson, could be a great choice for the Islanders’ coaching staff to insert into the lineup in place off Boychuk.
The rookie defenseman is the best right-handed defenseman available for the Islanders. This move would allow both him and Nick Leddy to play on their strong sides, which can make a difference onboard play and pucks wrapped around the boards.
Dobson does have some experience playing in a pair with Leddy. When Boychuk got hurt earlier this season, Dobson stepped into his place. So, there is a familiarity between Dobson and Leddy.
So far this season, Dobson has skated in 34 games where he had one goal, five assists, six points, -1 +/-, and averaged 13:17 of ice time per game.
Dobson has great skating ability and will definitely provide an offensive option to the Islanders d-core.
1. Andy Greene
Not many teams have a veteran player waiting in the wings with a great amount of Stanley Cup playoff experience, but the Islanders do. The 37-year-old, Andy Greene, is the Islanders best option to fill the void that Boychuk leaves.
Over his 14 year NHL career, Greene has played in 50 playoff games where he has 3 goals, 6 assists, 9 points, a 0 +/- and has averaged 19:58 of time on ice per playoff game.
Greene is an extremely smart defensive defenseman, who can play in all scenarios. He is reliable when you need a breakout pass. His vision with the puck is excellent and that was shown here on Anthony Beauvillier’s goal last Wednesday night:
Greene’s experience and style of play makes him the number one choice to replace Johnny Boychuk.
Isles Country: Who should come in and replace Johnny Boychuk? Leave your comments below!
*All stats provided by hockey reference.*