|Eric Boulton (top) has amassed 1265 penalty minutes during his 11-year NHL career (Getty Images) |
The New York Islanders continued to add toughness on the second day of the free agent signing period, inking forward Eric Boulton to a one-year deal Monday.
Boulton, a veteran of 600 NHL games over 11 seasons with the Buffalo Sabres, Atlanta Thrashers and New Jersey Devils, has averaged over two penalty minutes per game during his career, posting seven seasons of 100-plus PIMs. The Islanders sent Boulton the offer at the start of the free agent signing period on July 1, and the Halifax, NS native jumped at the opportunity right away, agreeing to the deal on Sunday and officially signing on Monday.
“I think we have a bright future here with all of the young talent we have,” Boulton said. “Playing against the Islanders last year (with New Jersey), they competed hard and they gave us a hard time. They were very competitive. I know this is a promising young team and it’s on the up and up.”
Never afraid to drop the gloves, Boulton racked up 115 penalty minutes in 51 games with New Jersey last season, but was held off the score sheet all season, and found himself out of the lineup during the Devils run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Although he is relied upon for skills other than scoring, the Halifax, NS native was not happy with his performance, and wants to get back on track.
“I was coming off a rough season in New Jersey,” Boulton said. “The team was successful but personally I had kind of an off year, so my goal is just to re-establish myself and prove that I can play and contribute and bring that physical element to the game.”
A player who has typically played the wing on teams’ third or fourth lines, Boulton measures his success by his defensive play and the overall success of the team.
“I’m not a big goals and stats guy,” Boulton said. “I judge my game on just being good defensively, doing my job and helping my team win. If you win in this league it means everyone’s doing their job.”
On and off the ice, the 35-year-old is looking forward to his role as an elder statesman on a young Islanders roster.
“I think on a young team it’s definitely important having the veteran leadership that I hope to bring,” Boulton said. “It’s important to take care of the young guys on and off the ice and make sure they can play their game, and just be out there to protect them and bring that physical element to the team.”
Boulton is also eager to experience the other side of the Islanders-Devils rivalry, having already enjoyed the intense atmosphere unique to games in the New York area.
“I got the taste of the rivalry,” Boulton said. “The Islanders, Rangers, Devils – it’s a lot of fun. It’s nice to play against your old team; you get a little extra bit of motivation. They’re always heated games with those three teams so I’m looking forward to it.”