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Johnny Boychuk is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL as a strong two-way player. He’s entering his sixth season with the Boston Bruins and will play a top-four role on one of the league’s best blue lines.
Boychuk has one year left on his contract and is eligible for unrestricted free agency next summer. Therefore, the Bruins should expect one of his finest seasons as a pro in 2014-15.
2013-14 Stats: 5 goals, 18 assists, 23 points in 75 games
Contract: One more year, with a $3.36 million salary-cap hit
What He Will Bring The Team
Boychuk is a quality two-way defenseman. His powerful shot from the point is a real weapon offensively, and he provides decent depth scoring (anywhere between 20 and25 points) from the blue line.
Boychuk is a very physical player who’s capable of excelling defensively against top competition. He blocks a ton of shots (team-leading 154 in 2013-14), consistently wins puck battles along the boards and in the corners, and is able to log over 20 minutes of ice time per game. If needed, he can move up to the first pairing and play alongside captain Zdeno Chara.
Boychuk also plays a key role on the B’s power play, a unit that ranked eighth in the league with an 83.4 percent success rate in 2013-14. His 2:54 of short-handed ice time per game ranked second behind Chara’s 3:10.
Weakness That Must Be Improved
Boychuk doesn’t have any glaring weaknesses, but it would help the Bruins if he took fewer penalties. His 20 minor penalties were the third-highest on the Bruins last season. As one of Boston’s best penalty killers and someone who makes a positive impact at both ends of the ice, it’s important for Boychuk to stay out of the penalty box as much as possible.
Expected Role For 2014-15
Boychuk will be a top-four defenseman for the Bruins, but his average ice time probably will be lower than 21:11 per game (his 2013-14 mark) because Dennis Seidenberg is healthy and back in the lineup. That’s good news for Boychuk, who had a good 2013-14 campaign but also played more minutes than expected because of Seidenberg and Adam McQuaid’s injuries.
In addition to his contributions at even strength, Boychuk will remain a focal point of Boston’s penalty kill, while providing the leadership and toughness expected of a veteran defensive defenseman.
Projected 2014-15 Stats: 7 goals, 19 assists in 77 games
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