The salary cap-strapped Bruins would benefit from moving a defenseman or two prior to the start of the regular season, and Boychuk, 30, would yield the highest return as an established top-four defenseman with a booming slap shot, a burning desire to compete and the kind of physicality and toughness that all NHL teams crave.
There’s also the simple fact that the Bruins will be hard-pressed to sign Boychuk to an extension following this season as he heads into unrestricted free agency. Given the kind of money (more than $5 million a season for five years) handed out to Brooks Orpik earlier this summer, Boychuk is in line for a giant payday following this season. It’ll be difficult to re-sign Boychuk with players such as David Krejci, Carl Soderberg and Dougie Hamilton all looking for new deals following the 2014-15 season. Restricted free agents Torey Krug and Reilly Smith are also due for big raises even if they don’t happen this time around.
With all of this swirling around as training camp approaches, Edmonton Journal reporter Jim Matheson chatted with Boychuk about his desire to remain in Boston, and any potential interest in playing for his hometown Oil.
Has he ever dreamed of playing for the Oilers after growing up in Edmonton a stone’s throw away from Rexall Place?
“Yeah, as a kid,” told Boychuk to the Edmonton Journal with a chuckle. “You always want to stay with the team you’re with [and won a championship]. They’re my [hockey] family.
“Our GM [Peter Chiarelli] is a mastermind...he’s good with doing things like this [cap struggles], and we have some good players we’ve developed the last couple of years, but nobody’s heard of them over on the west side [of the NHL].”
Clearly, the Bruins have extra defensemen, and have a need for an experienced NHL right wing or two given the departures of Jarome Iginla and Shawn Thornton. If the Bruins hope to land a talented winger in return for their surplus of defensemen, then it may be Boychuk that will headed away from Boston in the deal. Matt Bartkowski, Adam McQuaid or David Warsofsky could be dealt, but none of those three are going to yield the Bruins a young, promising winger capable of stepping right into Boston’s lineup.
The intriguing part about Edmonton from Boston’s perspective: The have young forward talent, along with a desperate need for a shutdown defenseman such as Boychuk.
Something along the lines of a Nail Yakupov-for-Johnny Boychuk trade could solve problems for both teams from a long-term perspective, but there’s no question the Black and Gold’s chances of winning a Cup this season would take a hit if No. 55 is dealt before, or in, this upcoming season. Boychuk will literally take a puck to the face to help the Bruins win a game, and a hockey team with Stanley Cup aspirations can’t deal those kinds of players away lightly.