With the unfortunate news on Wednesday that long-time NHL defenseman Johnny Boychuk was being forced into early retirement thanks to an eye injury, there is a slight silver lining for the New York Islanders when it comes to how that situation affects other NHL business.
With Boychuk’s contract set to come off the books, and with the earlier trade of Devon Toews, NBC Sports Adam Gretz writes that a doorway has opened up when it comes to getting restricted free agent Mathew Barzal signed to a new deal. Moving Boychuk was likely always going to have to be part of that equation, so his retirement just speeds up the process.
With the Boychuk news, the Islanders pre-existing $3.9 million in cap space isn’t as big a factor since the team can exceed the $81.5 million cap by the equivalent of Boychuk’s $6 million annual average value. That should be $9 million and change shoul dbe enough to get Barzal’s new deal done. Gretz writes,
“Barzal figures to take up a significant portion of that that space, and depending on the team it could be range anywhere from $7 million, to perhaps even $9 or $10 million on the high end.”
What Comes After Barzal’s Deal?
Barzal is easily the priority for the Islanders, but he’s not the only piece of business that Islanders need to take care of. There are pending deals for Matt Martin, Andy Greene and goaltender Cory Schneider just waiting to get done. And, the Boychuk departure potentially creates a hole on the blue line.
With Toews gone to the Colorado Avalanche and Boychuk off the roster, could the Islanders look at UFA options like Zdeno Chara, Sami Vatanen, Ben Hutton or Slater Koekkoek? Or, will a group that consists of Adam Pelech, Ryan Pulock, and Nick Leddy be enough to get the job done? The Islanders do have budding young prospect Noah Dobson waiting for an opportunity, but it’s too early to know how impactful he’ll be.
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