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NHL Community Bids Farewell to a Favorite: Johnny Boychuk

Johnny Boychuk has made the difficult decision to retire from the NHL at age 36.

An hour after Jonny Boychuk announced his retirement earlier today, it became abundantly clear what the rest of the league thought of the Edmonton born and raised defender. They loved him. Especially the outpouring of messages laced with genuine sincerity from players whom he suited up with during his 725 game NHL career.

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The 36-year-old was originally drafted 61st overall by the Colorado Avalanche in 2002. After several years toiling in the AHL, the former WHL standout finally got into four NHL games with the Avalanche in 2008. However, in June of that year the Boston Bruins acquired Boychuk’s rights from the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for rugged forward Matt Hendricks.

Boychuk’s Best Years

Boychuk thrived in Boston and by 2011 had become an integral part of the Stanley Cup championship team. Massachusetts became home base for Boychuk through another Stanley Cup run in 2013 when Boychuk firmly became a household name to hockey fans.

Because of the Bruins success at that time, and since, Boychuk’s salary got squeezed out of Boston. In 2014, he found himself on Long Island with the New York Islanders. Boychuk had some good years with the Islanders but an accumulation of injuries finally caught up with him. The latest of which was an eye injury suffered last season. Concern over the eye ended up being the ultimate reason behind this – decision or as Boychuk stated “it wasn’t really a decision, it was a life choice.”

Wishing he and his family the best in the next chapter of life.

Lou Strikes Again

While Boychuk will certainly be missed, it could not have worked out better for the Islanders. Once Boychuk is officially placed on the long term injured reserve, the Islanders will instantly have $6M in cap room (the original contract was a seven-year deal at $6M AAV through 2022). That extra salary space, along with the $3.9M of cap room they already had, should be enough to sign Mathew Barzal.

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I have to imagine that Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello likely knew this was a strong possibility before he signed Ryan Pulock, to a 2-year deal worth $10M ($5M AAV). At the time (November 4th) many pundits, myself included, wondered how Lamoriello could also manage to sign Barzal.

Now we know.

NEXT: Islanders Delay Done Deals, Buyout of Eberle Possible

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