– Boston Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli announced today that the club has signed defenseman Johnny Boychuk
to a three-year extension through the 2014-2015 season. The deal includes a limited no-trade clause.
“Johnny really wanted to stay here,” Chiarelli said when discussing the deal before tonight’s game against the New York Rangers. “I think that’s the overriding theme.”
So far this season, the 28-year-old Boychuk has played in 52 games and notched three goals and seven assists. As of game time tonight, he ranked second among Bruins defensemen, trailing only Zdeno Chara
, and eighth in the league in plus/minus (+23).
Last year, in his first full season with the team, Boychuk appeared in a career-high 69 regular season games, garnering three goals and a career-high 13 assists. He also skated in all 25 playoff games during the team’s 2011 Stanley Cup Championship run, scoring three goals and earning six assists.
“He’s a big, strong, physical D,” Chiarelli said. “He’s a Bruin type of player -- physical, and yet he can score the shot, and he’s a punishing player.”
In the 2009-2010 season, which he split between the Providence Bruins and Boston, Boychuk skated in 51 regular season NHL games, posting 5-10-15 totals. He spent most of the 2008-2009 season in Providence, where he led the team in scoring with 20-46-66 totals in 78 games and set a club record for points by a defenseman.
That same season, Boychuk led all AHL defensemen in scoring and was +19 on the season, earning him the P-Bruins MVP and Best Defenseman awards, the AHL’s Eddie Shore Award for the league’s top defenseman, and a spot on the First Team AHL All-Star roster.
Still, Chiarelli thinks Boychuk’s best years are ahead of him.
“[Defensemen] mature at a later pace, a later time than forwards. I think it’s a harder position to learn; it’s a harder position to improve at,” he said. “Johnny’s 28, so that’s young.”
Playing with a player like Chara for the majority of his time on ice has probably helped Boychuk’s game get stronger since he’s joined the Bruins. And while some may be quick to attribute some of the defenseman’s play to his linemate, Chiarelli said Boychuk brings plenty to that pairing.
“To play with Chara, you have to be able to match up against the top lines,” he said. “[Boychuk]’s at a solid 20 minutes, and he plays a heavy 20 minutes.”
Throughout his career, Boychuk has played in 177 regular season NHL games with Boston and the Colorado Avalanche and has 11-30-41 totals.
Originally drafted by Colorado in the third round (61st overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft, Boychuk was acquired by the Bruins in exchange for Matt Hendricks on June 24, 2008.
With the trade deadline coming up on Feb. 27, Chiarelli also offered a bit of insight into his plans: He wants to add, not subtract, to his Stanley Cup-winning team and maintain the chemistry among this group of players.
“I do want to add something, and I’d like to help the team. I’d like to add to our depth,” he said. “But [keeping the chemistry is] a priority. It’s a fine balance, chemistry, and you have to be careful."