WILMINGTON — There is a logjam on defense. There isn’t enough room under the salary cap. Those two factors have created a summer of speculation around the Bruins, much of which has centered on Johnny Boychuk.
The defenseman carries a $3.366 million cap hit on a team that needs all the room it can get. He is also entering the final year of his contract and, with the money handed out to defensemen this summer, stands to get a significant raise once he hits free agency.
Boychuk knows he has no control over what might happen. He just doesn’t want to get traded.
“This is like home,” Boychuk said Wednesday after a sparsely attended captain’s practice at Ristuccia Arena. “You’ve grown up playing for Boston — not grown up, but the last lot of years of my life. It’s home for me.
“This is my family and you always want to stay with them. It’s such a great team and organization.”
And although general manager Peter Chiarelli felt the need to shoot down Brad Marchand trade rumors at the start of the summer, he has done no such thing with Boychuk. None of the rumors has been quite as specific as the reported Marchand-for-Patrick Marleau deal, but the fact remains that Chiarelli hasn’t said that Boychuk will remain with the team.
Boychuk had a no-trade clause and a modified no-trade clause earlier in his deal, but he no longer has those protections, according to capgeek.com.
Though Chiarelli has been vocal about his desire to keep the team’s core together — something that continued with David Krejci’s six-year deal — that seems unlikely with Boychuk. There simply doesn’t seem to be the room, not with the likes of Brooks Orpik getting a five-year, $27.5 million deal from Washington this summer.
“I’ve been here for a while,” Boychuk said. “I’m not coming up from the American League like I was a couple of years ago, so it’s nice to be part of that core that we do have, if I am part of it. I think I am. We have such a good group, you would hate to see anything happen to it.”
But parts have been traded away in recent years, or lost in free agency. Andrew Ference and Tyler Seguin are gone. Shawn Thornton is no longer with the Bruins. Could Boychuk be next?
It’s what he has been hearing all summer.
“It’s tough to hear, but at the end of the day it doesn’t really matter what anybody says,” Boychuk said. “If it happens, then you work on that part. But until it does, you can’t control it, so you’ve just got to keep playing the way that you can.
“You always want to stay here, but if something happens, then it does. But you have no control over it. You want to stay with the guys that you grew up playing with.”
Boychuk, of course, said he would be happy to let his agent negotiate a new deal with the Bruins during the season, if that’s what it took to remain in Boston. He’s just focused on trying to win a Stanley Cup again — at least until he hears differently.
So, Boychuk was asked, what is he worth in a trade?
“Oh [expletive], I have no idea,” he said. “Maybe 10 [first-round picks]. I don’t even know what I’m worth. I’m just worth whatever somebody’s willing to give, I guess. But I don’t want to be traded at all.”
Caron still here
It seemed, at first, that Jordan Caron might not get a qualifying offer. Then it seemed he might be traded. But the Bruins’ 2009 first-round pick remains on the team, with a chance to contend for one of the three open forward spots entering training camp.
“I didn’t know what to expect,” Caron said. “I know there was a lot of rumors from my meetings last year. I kind of knew there were maybe going to be some trades. But I’m pretty happy to be back.”
Still, it seemed then and seems now as if a break between Caron and the Bruins might be best for both sides. Caron is generally a dependable forward, but brings almost no offensive upside. In 35 games in 2013-14, he had just one goal and two assists. He was a minus-8.
Asked what he needs to do to make the club, he said, “Just playing my game and maybe try to be a bit better offensively, try to create more, not being scared of making mistakes and be confident.
“I think when I’ve done that in the last few seasons, it paid off. I just need to do it even more, I guess, game in, game out.”