The aging Johnny Boychuk will look to impress during the playoffs with the goal of securing a spot on next year’s New York Islanders squad.
Although he still proves to be serviceable at times, New York Islanders right-handed defenseman Johnny Boychuk is no longer the player he once was.
Boychuk (36) played in 64 games this season and notched just 11 points, coming in the form of two goals and nine assists. He’s always been known for his ability to be a two-way defenseman, but he struggled offensively this campaign.
Among players with at least 100 minutes played, Boychuk was the worst on the team in both goals above replacement and expected goals above replacement.
According to Evolving-Hockey, Boychuk recorded a whopping 50 giveaways this season along with just six takeaways. He still uses his body as much as he can though. Boychuk was 16th in the league in blocks with 128 and additionally recorded 135 hits.
Also on the bright side, he was very effective on the power play.
The Islanders had the man-advantage less than any other team in the league. But even so, Boychuk recorded a whopping 11.8 expected goals per 60 minutes in these regards. This statistic was significantly higher than any of his teammates.
But even that comes with disappointment, as the Islanders used almost all of their players on the power play more than Boychuk.
The veteran has had one of the league’s hardest shots for years, but he really didn’t utilize it to his advantage this season.
As if matters hadn’t been bad enough already, he made the news on March 3 when he suffered a horrific injury after taking a skate to the eye.
Overall, Boychuk has been below-average for the Islanders this year and was often a liability. Fans are beginning to realize that Boychuk is aging. He experienced an underwhelming season this year and was mediocre at best the year prior.
There isn’t much good to say about Boychuk’s 2019-20 performance. Nevertheless, he does indeed have a chance to end the year on a high note. The Islanders’ season isn’t done yet, and they’ll be playing the Florida Panthers once hockey returns.
Boychuk is constantly praised for his veteran leadership, and that’s something that will certainly come in handy during the playoffs. He spent a good chunk of the season as a bottom pair defenseman alongside the young Noah Dobson, who’s grown and benefitted from Boychuk’s experience and leadership.
The Islanders possess a very young defensive corps and can use all the help they can get.
New York certainly won’t feature Boychuk nearly as often as the other defensemen on the roster. Nonetheless, the Islanders are lucky that he’s healed from his eye injury, considering he adds depth to their blue line.
Boychuk has played in 101 career playoff games with both the Boston Bruins and Islanders, having recorded 30 points in the process (13 goals, 17 assists). However, it’s important to state that he played just 22 of those games with the Islanders. Boychuk recorded a measly two assists in those limited appearances.
Something to note: Despite not performing much in the postseason with the Islanders, Boychuk was part of the 2015-16 squad that eliminated the Florida Panthers in the first round.
Boychuk is notoriously signed to one of the worst contracts in the NHL. It shouldn’t come as a surprise if the Islanders buy him out after the season ends. He still has two years left on his deal and there’s no real spot for him on a team that employs a young and talented defensive unit. Plus, Boychuk isn’t getting any younger.
However, he’ll be interesting to watch during the playoffs because he’ll surely be working to earn a spot on next year’s team. If the Islanders do keep him around next year, the purpose will be for him to have a strong locker-room presence who can be serviceable on the ice. Thus, fans shouldn’t expect to see the old Boychuk we all remember.