Andrew Bodnarchuk Battling Fellow Young Defensemen to Get Back to Boston’s Blue Line

On Wednesday, we looked at some Bruins prospects that will still be worth keeping an eye on this season and in the future, but couldn't quite crack our Top 10 Bruins Prospects List. Here is the first installment of the list, and checking in at No. 10 is defenseman Andrew Bodnarchuk.

No. 10: Andrew Bodnarchuk

Position: Defense
Age: 22
Height: 5-foot-11
Weight: 185 pounds
Shoots: Left
Acquired: 2006 draft, fifth round (128th overall)

2009-10 stats
Providence (AHL): 70 games, 5-10-15, plus-7, 51 PIMs
Boston (NHL): 5 games, 0-0-0, minus-2, 2 PIMs

Bodnarchuk is an undersized but tenacious defender, one of several sub-six-foot blueliners the Bruins have in the system. He might not be quite as skilled as others like David Warsofsky, but he has a more complete game. He had some growing pains in his first pro season in Providence in 2008-09, but showed a lot of progress last season. He even made it up to the big club for a handful of games and didn’t look out of place in limited action. There is an offensive element to his game, as he put up double-digit goals in each of his last two years of junior. He’s focused more on taking care of his own zone in the AHL, but could contribute more offensively as he gets more confident and comfortable in the pro game. He did score five goals last year after managing just one in his first season in Providence. He is a decent puck-mover, and while his size could create problems against bigger forwards, he has a chance to develop into a solid minutes-eater along the lines of the similarly sized Andrew Ference.

Bodnarchuk grew up with fellow Bruin, winger Brad Marchand in Hammonds Plains, Nova Scotia. The pair also played together in Halifax (QMJHL) in their final junior season in 2007-08 and they continue to work out together during the summer. … Showed his leadership abilities in Halifax as he wore the ‘C’ as the Mooseheads’ team captain in 2007-08. … Bodnarchuk was third on Providence in plus-minus, trailing only Marchand (plus-14) and Adam McQuaid (plus-11), but both of them spent much of the season up in Boston and Bodnarchuk compiled his plus-7 in more than twice as many games. … Averaged just 7:19 of ice time in his five games up with Boston, and did not have a shot on goal. He did chip in two hits and three blocked shots in his brief stint with the big club.

I think Andy had a real solid year last year," said Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli. "The year before he had more downs than ups, but last year I thought he really figured out the game and he simplified it. I saw a guy who really turned the corner a bit, and he’s still quite young. He’s got good speed and good compete. He did play with us [in Boston] a little bit and I didn’t mind his game up with us … Andy tended to run around a bit and he had to dial that back and he did, and to me that’s a sign of maturation."

2010-11 outlook
Bodnarchuk will battle for the seventh defenseman role in camp, but is a long shot to unseat McQuaid and open the regular season in Boston. Instead, expect him to log big minutes in Providence and take on more of a leadership role with a young blue-line crew down there as he enters his third professional season. He got his first taste of NHL action last year and should have a chance at more this year if injuries strike, as he should be among the first call-ups if needed. He was signed to just a one-year extension in July, so this is a big year for Bodnarchuk. Adding pressure is the host of young defensemen the Bruins have added to the system in trades for Warsofsky, Matt Bartkowski, Steven Kampfer and Cody Wild. With Nathan McIver also signed and Yuri Alexandrov coming over from Russia, plus Tommy Cross and Ryan Button also in the organization, Bodnarchuk will have to hold off plenty of challengers to maintain his place in the club’s prospect pecking order. will count down our Preseason Top 10 Bruins Prospects with one profiled each day.

Wednesday, Sept. 1: A look at some of the players who just missed the cut for the Top 10, but still bear watching in the coming season.

Friday, Sept. 3: The No. 9 Bruins prospect is unveiled.

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