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Islanders sign Johnny Boychuk to seven-year contract extension

Johnny Boychuk of the New York Islanders celebrates

Johnny Boychuk of the New York Islanders celebrates his second-period goal against the New York Rangers at Nassau Coliseum on Monday, Feb. 16, 2015. Credit: Jim McIsaac

Garth Snow made the Islanders a better team when he acquired Johnny Boychuk and Nick Leddy in separate trades an hour apart just before this season began.

In the space of 16 days, Snow made the Islanders a better team well into the future, too. Boychuk signed a seven-year, $42-million contract extension on Thursday, complementing the seven-year, $38.5-million extension Leddy signed on Feb. 24.

Boychuk, 31, was arguably the bigger get: Due to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, the affable defenseman would have been by far the top free-agent target on the market this summer.

Instead, the former Bruin has committed to the Islanders, meaning Snow has his top four defensemen -- Boychuk, Leddy, Travis Hamonic and Calvin de Haan -- locked up through 2016-17 at a combined salary-cap hit of $17.3 million. Boychuk and Leddy are signed through 2021-22, Hamonic through 2019-20.

"We're going to have a good team for a long time," Boychuk told the Islanders website. "I'm happy to get it done and now just look forward to the playoffs . . . It's going to be the best chance to win the Stanley Cup."

Boychuk was one of the more popular Bruins in his five seasons there, winning a Stanley Cup in 2010. With just the sort of payday he got on Thursday looming during this season's training camp, the Bruins took back a pair of second-round picks and the Islanders got a veteran to steady their defense.

From the day he joined the Islanders, Boychuk was committed to his new team. "We have a good team in here," he noted after his first practice, a choice of pronoun that wasn't lost on his new teammates.

Boychuk's impact on the ice also was immediate. Just five days after joining the Islanders, he scored the first goal of their season in Raleigh, North Carolina.

He has career highs of seven goals and 25 assists this season and the Islanders hope his biggest impact is yet to come, in the postseason.

"Johnny's influence in our dressing room, on and off the ice, has been immeasurable," Snow said in a statement.

And his lighthearted attitude was on display when he announced the news of his new contract on Twitter. Boychuk tweeted, "Yes! Yes! Yes! For seven more years!!"

"What a fan base we have here,'' he said. "It comes to life when we play here."

Notes & quotes: Frans Nielsen took a maintenance day off from Thursday's practice, likely still feeling the effects of a lower-body injury he suffered against the Canucks on Feb. 22. Nielsen, who has 12 goals and 27 assists, has not missed a game this season . . . Leddy (upper body) and Mikhail Grabovski (concussion) were on hand for the team's picture day Thursday morning but did not skate.

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