The New York Islanders figure to be a significantly better team when they hit the ice for the regular-season opener next week, thanks to two trades Saturday that promise to solidify their defense.
Isles general manager Garth Snow acquired both Johnny Boychuk from Boston and Nick Leddy from Chicago in separate traded completed within minutes of each other. The two veterans should provide a huge boost to the team's relatively inexperienced blue line, an issue that Snow has addressed as a priority.
In the Boychuk trade, the Isles sent back a pair of second-round picks and a conditional third-round pick in the deal.
While the Islanders landed a bona fide veteran in the 30-year-old Boychuk, the Bruins made the type of move that has been anticipated for weeks.
With Boston's salary cap crunch, the Bruins were expected to move either Boychuk or Matt Bartkowski before opening night next week.
"This is a tough trade. We all like Johnny," Boston general manager Peter Chiarelli said. "I spoke with him shortly after the trade was consummated. I told him, 'Johnny, we brought you here from Colorado, and you did everything we told you to do. You got better as a player. You were patient. You're part of the fabric of the team and this was really hard to do, but there's an element of business to it, an element of hockey and we tried to get ahead of it a little bit.' He was upset. I was upset. I'm still upset. He's the one that's moving."
Meanwhile, Chicago found itself in a similarly cap-strapped situation, causing many to speculate who would be moved -- Leddy and fellow defenseman Johnny Oduya were identified as logical candidates -- before the season opened.
The 23-year-old Leddy, a former first-round draft pick, had seven goals and 31 points for the Blackhawks last season, his fourth professional season.
"Nick Leddy loved playing for Chicago but is looking forward to joining the young group of talented players in New York as they prepare to move to Brooklyn next season," Leddy's agent, Neil Sheehy, wrote in a text message Saturday.
Boychuk had five goals and 23 points for the Bruins last season. He is set to become an unrestricted free agent next summer; 2014-15 is the last year of a three-year, $10.1 million deal.
"I see where Johnny's market's going, and all the strength to him," Chiarelli said. "He's earned it. He battles. He's a good player and he's earned it."
The pair of trades caps what has been a tremendously productive and aggressive offseason for the Isles, who also acquired the rights to starting goaltender Jaroslav Halak in April, later inking him to a four-year, $18 million deal, and signed backup Chad Johnson as a free agent.
Information from ESPNBoston.com's Joe McDonald and ESPNChicago.com's Scott Powers was used in this report.