JOEL BOUCHARD RETURNS
The New York Islanders have re-signed veteran defenseman Joel Bouchard to a one-year contract. Bouchard is coming off his first season in the organization in 2005-06, when he played 25 NHL games after a mid-season recall. With the Islanders this past season, Bouchard scored a goal and added eight assists for nine points and was highly regarded for his work with the team's young defensemen, such as Bruno Gervais and Chris Campoli. His efforts were rewarded when he was named the Islanders' nominee for the Masterton Trophy by the Long Island chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Association.
"We're very happy that Joel is coming back for his second season with us," said Islanders Vice President and general manager Neil Smith. "I was extremely impressed by Joel's commitment last season, when he returned from a serious shoulder injury earlier than anyone thought possible and was such a positive influence on our team. We really like the skill level, work ethic and leadership Joel brings to us."
The 32-year old Bouchard has played in a total of 364 NHL games in over parts of eleven seasons with Calgary, Nashville, Dallas, Phoenix, New Jersey, Pittsburgh, the New York Rangers and the Islanders. He has recorded 22 goals and 53 assists for 75 points and 264 penalty minutes in his career. The Montreal native was originally drafted by Calgary in the sixth round (129th overall) of the 1992 NHL Entry Draft.
Bouchard began the 2005-06 season with the Islanders' AHL affiliate in Bridgeport. After suffering an early-season shoulder injury, Bouchard returned to the Sound Tigers' lineup in January. In 15 games, he recorded four goals and nine assists for 13 points and 10 penalty minutes. He was recalled to the Islanders in the second half of the season and remained with the team for the remained of the year.
"I really enjoyed my first year on Long Island and it was a priority for me to return," Bouchard said. "We made a lot of strides towards the end of last season and Neil has made some great moves this week by adding players I respect a lot like Brendan Witt and Mike Sillinger. I'm excited about our team."