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New York Islanders

Johnny Boychuk’s Career Ends Due to Eye Injury

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Johnny Boychuk

The NHL career of Johnny Boychuk came to an end on Wednesday after 13 seasons.

The New York Islanders announced that Boychuk’s time in the NHL had come to an end due to an eye injury he suffered during the regular season. Boychuk was clipped by the skate of the Montreal Canadiens’ Artturi Lehkonen on March 3 just above his eyelid.

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The gruesome injury required 90 stitches to repair the cut, but it did not preclude Johnny Boychuk from playing briefly during the postseason this year. While Boychuk did appear in three games during the playoffs over the summer, he did begin to feel the injury start to become an issue again.

“I kind of felt it in the bubble a little bit, but when I got out I started to work out and I really realized there was something wrong,” Boychuk said during a Zoom call Wednesday afternoon. “I went and got it checked out and after I got it checked out I let Lou know what was going on. It’s been two months of doctors and MRIs and X-Rays. It’s been a while.”

After months of tests and exams, the results Boychuk got back were eye-opening, he said during the call. Doctors told the veteran defenseman that his prereferral vision was “pretty bad” and that there was some optic nerve damage.

Doctors even went as far as to tell Boychuk that some of the damage to his eye was irreversible. The news was serious enough that it took any decision Boychuk was going to have right out of his hands.

“When somebody tells you you’re not going to play again or you shouldn’t or else you’re going to get seriously hurt it’s been really tough,” he said. “I don’t even think it was a decision. When you play with it and realize there’s something wrong and then you go and get tests. It wasn’t really a decision, it was a life choice.

“If I was to go play again and not being able to see somebody coming and getting hit, I could be a lot worse than what I was.”

While Boychuk’s career is coming to an end, the 36-year-old wasn’t quite sure if he was officially retiring or if he was being placed on LTIR. Boychuk had two years remaining on his contract and the Islanders would be able to use his $6 million cap hit if they put him on LTIR.

The Islanders have a mere $3.9 million in cap space with restricted free agent Mathew Barzal still unsigned.

“The injury is causing me to stop playing, so I don’t know if it’s retiring or LTIR,” Boychuk said. “I just know that it’s going to cause me to not play because it’s basically not safe for me if I can’t see things coming. For the future, I have no idea what to do because this has just been two months of going to doctors and I’m trying to think about what I can do after, but I’m not too sure yet.

“I want to be on the Island obviously. We built a house there, so there was no plans on leaving, but I just don’t know.”

Johnny Boychuk has spent the last six seasons with the Islanders, appearing in 404 games and recording 131 points (35 goals, 96 assists). He was acquired by the Islanders on Oct. 4, 2014, from the Boston Bruins in exchange for a pair of second-round picks.

Boychuk signed a seven-year contract extension later that season.

Prior to his trade to New York, Johnny Boychuk spent six years with Boston where he appeared in 317 games and won a Stanley Cup in 2011. In addition, Boychuk spent one season with the Colorado Avalanche.

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[…] season. Concern over the eye ended up being the ultimate reason behind this – decision or as Boychuk stated “it wasn’t really a decision, it was a life […]

Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Chris Lamoriello: ‘We’re Not Ruling Anything Out’ When it Comes to Josh Ho-Sang

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Josh Ho-Sang
Photo Courtesy: Greg Vasil/Bridgeport Sound Tigers

Could we see Josh Ho-Sang back in North America in the near future? Don’t rule it out.

Bridgeport Sound Tigers general manager and New York Islanders Islanders assistant general manager Chris Lamoriello indicated that a Ho-Sang return was on the table despite the team loaning him overseas. Ho-Sang is currently playing for Orebro HK in the Swedish Hockey League.

The Islanders announced they had loaned the talented forward to the Swedish hockey team earlier this month.

“Josh is extremely talented, very lucky early in his career to play a number of NHL games,” Lamoriello said during a Zoom call with local media. “At this point, we looked at a number of different options to put him in the best position. … We felt that with our schedule only being 24 games at the American League level, that he would get the chance to get in the lineup quicker and a greater volume of games in a shorter period of time.

“We thought this made a lot of sense. We spoke to him about it and he agreed, and this open-ended too. This isn’t something that will determine his future for this season.”

The Islanders had placed four players overseas with clubs while the NHL had worked to determine how or even if they would conduct a 2022-21 season. Ho-Sang’s situation played out differently, Lamoriello said, because those four players had citizenship in the countries that they played in.

The fact that placement for Josh Ho-Sang materialized later wasn’t out of the ordinary, Lamoriello said.

The Islanders shocked many when it was revealed that he would not be invited to training camp after he signed a 1-year, two-way contract extension this past offseason. Ho-Sang made it known to the organization that he would report to AHL Bridgeport if that’s where they wanted him.

Instead, the Islanders loaned Josh Ho-Sang to Orebro HK after he cleared waivers.

Despite the ups and downs, Lamoriello said that the communication with Ho-Sang had been “excellent.”

“That’s been ongoing, that’s been consistent,” Lamoriello said. “I feel very good about the direction in this type of transaction. Not only with us as an organization, but him as a player. I think it’s been extremely important, as you said, communication that has been had.”

And when asked to clarify about the potential for Ho-Sang to return, Lamoriello again indicated that it could be in the cards.

“We’re not ruling anything out,” Lamoriello said. “That’s why I mentioned it was open-ended. We’re just going to go game to game.”

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New York Islanders

Anthony Beauvillier Injury Could Lead to More Lineup Tinkering by Islanders

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Anthony Beauvillier

The situation with Anthony Beauvillier is fluid.

The Islanders forward was injured in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils and is currently day-to-day with a lower-body injury. That’s about as detailed as head coach Barry Trotz was willing to get with the media on Monday afternoon.

The Isles are in Washington preparing for their first meeting of the year with the Capitals at Capital One Arena. It will be the first of two games that they’ll see the Caps this week and their first chance to rebound from their second shutout loss of the year.

That task will be made harder, however, when you factor in that Beauvillier may not be in the lineup on Tuesday. The Islanders have been inconsistent offensively, scoring four goals twice this young season and then being shutout in both losses they’ve suffered.

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

Now they’ll have to piece together a lineup that can help curb some of the team’s offensive struggles.

“Obviously we might have to do some gymnastics in terms of our roster,” head coach Barry Trotz said. “There’s a lot of parts of our game we do really well. … Teams are locking it down defensively. Goaltenders seem to be sharp. Yeah, we’re looking for an odd goal or two. We’re OK if we can win 1-0. Just don’t like losing 1-0.”

Anthony Beauvillier is the first injury situation that the Islanders have really had to deal with early on this season. The team had a COVID scare last week when Josh Bailey briefly appeared on the COVID protocol list, but he did not miss any games.

Trotz had already tinkered with the Islanders lineup on Sunday, playing Michael Dal Colle in place of the more offensive-minded Kieffer Bellows. Depending on Beauvillier’s status there could be more changes to the lineup, which highlights the importance for everyone to be ready.

“We have success as a group when everyone contributes,” Trotz said. “That’s our top-six. That’s our bottom-six. So when guys come into the lineup, they have to contribute. They just can’t put on the jersey and be part of the team. They’ve got to find ways to contribute. Some guys have to contribute offensively because that’s more of their skill set.

“Some guys have to do it with the physical play or the checking prowess. … Whatever you bring to the table you better bring it.”

Sunday’s appearance was Dal Colle’s first this season for the Islanders. The more seasoned forward had established himself as somewhat of a regular in the lineup, appearing 53 games last season.

Dal Colles said he felt he learned a lot from his year with the Islanders last season, not only during the regular season, but in the playoff bubble as well.

The 24-year-old was happy with the way he and his linemates played against New Jersey, albeit, he admitted they could have gotten off to a faster start. Dal Colle is also very aware of hight tight the competition is for roster spots on a day to day basis.

“Everyone knows every day you’re battling for spots,” Dal Colle said. “Everyone wants to be in the lineup. We have a tone of bodies all with NHL experience. I think we know every day we come to the rink we’re going to need to work hard and push each other. I think (Trotz) is going to put the best lineup he thinks can win. We know that and it starts in practice.”

The Islanders have a pair of more offensively minded forward in youngsters Bellows and Oliver Wahlstrom. The aforementioned Wahlstrom has yet to play this season, but he could be an option with the Islanders’ scoring falling on the top-six of the lineup.

The injury to Anthony Beauvillier could make it harder to adjust that issue.

“I think what you’re finding most of our games one or the other of our top two lines are carrying the load and we’re not getting that complete contribution through the lineup right now,” Trotz said. “When we’re most successful we’re getting, one night it’s the fourth line. The next night it’s the third, but three of the four lines are contributing. Lately, we’ve just had one of the four lines that have had an effect on the game.”

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New York Islanders

Ilya Sorokin Was Not the Problem in the Islanders Loss to New Jersey | NYHN+

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Ilya Sorokin makes a save on the New Jersey Devils

When the final buzzer sounded on Sunday and the New York Islanders second loss of the season was a done deal, there was a lot to not like about their game against New Jersey. One item that should not be too high on that list was the play of Ilya Sorokin.

The rookie netminder started in just his second career NHL game on Sunday in the Islanders 2-0 loss to the New Jersey Devils. While the effort wasn’t perfect, he did what you’d expect out of any goaltender on any given night. He gave them a chance to win.

Ilya Sorokin finished the night with 22 saves and a .917 save percentage, which was not a bad effort in only his second game in North America. It was by far a big improvement over his first start the weekend prior.

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