NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Why trade for one Stanley Cup-winning defenseman when you can get two for basically nothing?
That’s exactly what the New York Islanders did on Saturday, stunning the hockey world in the process.
Long in need of help along their blue line, the Islanders acquired veterans Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy, respectively, the team announced.
With the Islanders still having plenty of money to spend, general manager Garth Snow targeted teams who needed to get under the salary cap, first sending the Boston Bruins a pair of second-round picks and a conditional third-rounder for Boychuk, a 30-year-old stay-at-home defenseman with a mean streak who will become an unrestricted free agent next summer.
Snow then shipped young defensemen Ville Pokka and T.J. Brennan, and the rights to goaltender Anders Nilsson to the Chicago Blackhawks for 23-year-old Leddy, an offensive-minded defenseman who should instantly help the Isles at both even strength and on the power play, and AHL goalie Kent Simpson.
Boychuk, who will earn a little more than $3.3 million this season, had three goals and six assists during the Bruins’ run to the 2011-12 Stanley Cup championship. Leddy, who hasn’t missed a regular-season game in three seasons, had a goal and four assists during the Blackhawks’ run to the Cup championship in 2012-13, Leddy is making $2.7 million and will be a restricted free agent at the end of the season.
The moves come as the Islanders enter a pivotal season. Coming off a disappointing 2013-14, in which they missed the playoffs after making it for the first time in six years the season before, the Isles will be playing their final season at Nassau Coliseum before moving to Barclays Center in Brooklyn in 2015.
The Islanders, who have been criticized in recent seasons for relying too heavily on the draft to build their roster, have raised their payroll significantly since the end of last season. They traded for goaltender Jaroslav Halak in May and then signed him to a four-year, $18 million contract about a month later. They then signed center Mikhail Grabovski and winger Nikolay Kulemin to four-year deals worth $20 million and $16.75 million, respectively, during free agency and added insurance in net in the form of Chad Johnson, inking him to a two-year deal.
Prior to making the trades on Saturday, the Islanders appeared ready to enter the season with several young players on a defense that allowed the third-most goals in the NHL last season, but with the additions of Boychuk and Leddy the organization can now allow for highly touted prospects Griffin Reinhart and Ryan Pulock to develop at a more realistic pace.
The Islanders open the 2014-15 season next Friday night in Carolina and then play their home opener against the Hurricanes the next night.
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