Wednesday, December 30, 2020

Isles Preview: Johnny Boychuk: Three Autographed Cards

This will likely be the preface to all of this year's Season Preview posts: 2020 is a different beast and requires adaptability; in my case, it means the joint posts with my "main/personal" blog will not be in the "player here/analysis there" format but rather the entire scope of the analysis will take place here and the player will have some sort of direct connection to what's written. Caveats: at this point, despite the season being set to start in Mid-January, several impact players haven't found a team yet and quite a few teams are currently above the salary cap, which means there is much maneuvering left to do.
The New York Islanders have the best coach in the business in Barry Trotz, and they remain one of the better-balanced teams in the NHL, with one star in the making in Mathew Barzal up front and an ensemble cast of selfless players.

What makes their odds look good:
Trotz has devised a defensive plan that can shut down just about anyone that three full lines of second-liners take pride in adhering to, with an effective defense and pair of goalies that make it work every night. Add Barzal and a few prospects like Oliver Wahlstrom who may or may not end up on his level - but doesn't even need to to succeed with this team.

Question marks:
Are Jordan Eberle's days as a 20-goal, 60-point player behind him? Does anyone realize Josh Ho-Sang is still in the Isles organization?

Most of the team's core is under the age of 30: Barzal is 23, Adam Pelech and Ryan Pulock are 26, Jean-Gabriel Pageau is 28, Brock Nelson and Nick Leddy are 29, Anthony Beauvillier is still just 23 and Anders Lee and Eberle are 30 on the dot. This team will make the playoffs for five of the next six seasons.

Third in the East/Metro.

One player whose run with the Isles has come to an end is Johnny Boychuk, whose eye injury against the Montréal Canadiens right before the pandemic struck last season has left him with bad peripheral vision, forcing him to retire. The dependable rearguard was a fixture on the Islanders' blue line for six seasons, after six years in the Boston Bruins organization and four in the Colorado Avalanche system. He went on two Stanley Cup runs with the Bruins, winning it in 2011 and losing the Final to the Chicago Blackhawks in 2013.

Here is what he looked like wearing the Islanders' classic white (now-away) uniform, on card #657 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 MVP collection:
Here he is shooting from the point in the team's blue (home) uniform with the 2014-15 patch commemorating the move from Nassau Coliseum to Barclay's, sporting the alternate captain's "A", on card #375 from Upper Deck's 2015-16 Series 2 collection:
And here he is once again in blue, this time with the NHL's 100th Anniversary patch oddly placed below the jersey number instead of on the shoulder, on card #323 fro UD's 2017-18 O-Pee-Chee set:
He signed them in black sharpie after a game in Montréal during the 2018-19 season.

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