The New York Islanders are pushing more chips to the center of the table as they go hard at pulling in a playoff spot before the team moves to Brooklyn next season. Saturday, they acquired both Johnny Boychuk from the Bruins and Nick Leddy from the Blackhawks. But rather than a change of address, the real motivation here, of course, is that the Islanders don't hold their own first round pick this year. They've held a top-five selection in five of the past six drafts, but a similar finish in 2014-15 would only make the Thomas Vanek trade so much worse - and possibly land the
Buffalo Sabres both Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel. So the Islanders took advantage of two cap ceiling teams who were looking to shed a defenseman.
The Chicago Blackhawks have been over the cap since they signed Brad Richards and had been looking to move either Leddy or Johnny Oduya - and since Leddy was the one without a no-trade clause, he was shipped to the Islanders for Ville Pokka, T.J. Brennan and Anders Nilsson.
The Bruins were bumping up near the cap ceiling as well and Boychuk had been on the block for most of the off-season. A UFA next summer, Boychuk is being paid $3.36 million against the cap and became expendable with the rise of Dougie Hamilton, the re-signing of Torey Krug and the effectiveness of Matt Bartkowski. The team simply wasn't going to be able to pay him market value. So Boychuk was acquired by the Islanders for a 2015 second-rounder, 2016 second-rounder and a conditional third-rounder in 2015.
Leddy and Boychuk are two aggressive acquisitions by Islanders GM Garth Snow. New York headed into the summer of 2014 needing to acquire a No. 1 goaltender and add to the defense. With Jaroslav Halak now in their stable (and worthy backup Chad Johnson), Snow finished the job with the Leddy and Boychuk trades. It was a rare good day for the Islanders, a team that took another big step towards the post-season today - perhaps even locking themselves in. With strength at forward, the best No. 1 goalie they've had in years, and now two experienced, Cup-winning defensemen added in one day, it all looks good on paper for the Islanders. Now - let's play the games.
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