The New York Islanders retooled their defense Saturday, acquiring veteran defenseman Johnny Boychuk from the Boston Bruins and up-and-coming defenseman Nick Leddy from the Chicago Blackhawks in separate trades.
Boychuk, who helped the Bruins win the Stanley Cup in 2011, was obtained for two second-round picks, one in the 2015 NHL Draft and another in 2016. There is a conditional third-round pick in 2015 involved in the trade, which comes into play if the Islanders trade Boychuk to another Eastern Conference team before the end of this season. The 2015 second-round pick going to Boston was acquired by the Islanders from the Philadelphia Flyers in a March trade for defenseman Andrew MacDonald.
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"They've both won a Stanley Cup, so in the leadership department, that helps our group," Islanders general manager Garth Snow told the team website. "Leddy's ability to move the puck and skate the puck up ice, add offense; Boychuk’s ability to be physical, clear the front of the net and a howitzer for a shot; for us, [those are] two solid additions to our club."
In the trade with Chicago, the Islanders parted with minor-league defensemen TJ Brennan and defenseman prospect Ville Pokka, and the rights to goaltender Anders Nilsson, a restricted free agent who is playing in Russia this season.
The Blackhawks said Pokka and Brennan will report to the Rockford IceHogs of the American Hockey League.
Boychuk, 30, had five goals, 23 points, 45 penalty minutes and was plus-31 in 75 games for the Bruins last season. At 6-foot-2 and 225 pounds, he adds size to the Islanders defense.
He can become an unrestricted free agent July 1.
Boston made the trade for much-needed salary-cap flexibility. The Bruins put themselves hard against the NHL salary cap Monday by signing restricted free agents, defenseman Torey Krug and forward Reilly Smith, to one-year contracts. The Bruins had a glut of defensemen at the NHL level, especially with the return of veterans Dennis Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid, who each missed extensive time last season.
"This is a tough trade. We all like Johnny," Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "... He was upset, I was upset, I'm still upset."
Leddy, 23, had seven goals, 31 points, 10 penalty minutes and a plus-10 rating with the Blackhawks last season, his fourth with Chicago. Leddy was taken by the Minnesota Wild at No. 16 in the 2009 NHL Draft and traded to Chicago on Feb. 12, 2010. He was part of Chicago's 2013 Stanley Cup championship.
The Leddy trade also was a salary-cap move by the Blackhawks, who got under the cap by moving the remaining year on Leddy's contract. Leddy can become a restricted free agent July 1.
Brennan, the highest-scoring defenseman in the American Hockey League last season with the Toronto Marlies, was signed by the Islanders as a free agent July 1. Pokka, a 20-year-old Finn, was taken in the second round (No. 34) of the 2012 NHL Draft. He had been assigned by the Islanders to their AHL affiliate, the Bridgeport Sound Tigers, earlier in the day.
Simpson, 22, played 31 games with Rockford and one game with Chicago in 2013-14.
"It's not a situation where it came out of nowhere," Snow said. "We had been communicating with both teams for a period of time now and it all came to fruition today. It's a good day for our hockey club and obviously an exciting day for our fans. We ended up landing two top-four defensemen."