The Boston Bruins need to shed salary and address their logjam on defense remains a hot topic in this summer’s NHL rumor mill.
Much of the speculation centers on Johnny Boychuk, who will be eligible next summer for unrestricted free agency. The 30-year-old blueliner will earn $3.6 million this season, while his cap hit is more than $3.3 million. Brooks Orpik signed a five-year deal this summer with the Washington Capitals worth $5.5-million annually and Boychuk could seek a comparable salary.
If Boychuk becomes a UFA, the Edmonton Oilers could be very interested in his services. He’s an Edmonton native with a strong all-around skill set that would benefit the Oilers’ rebuilding defense corps.
Boychuk, however, told the Edmonton Journal’s Jim Matheson his preference is to remain with the Bruins, calling them “my hockey family.” Considering the Bruins remain a legitimate Stanley Cup contender three years after their last championship, his reluctance to leave Boston is understandable. His future with the Bruins, however, will depend upon their cap space beyond this season.
They currently have more than $46 million invested in just 10 players for 2015-16. David Krejci, Adam McQuaid, Gregory Campbell, Daniel Paille, Carl Soderberg and Matt Bartkowski are also impending 2015 UFAs, while Dougie Hamilton, Jordan Caron, Justin Florek and Niklas Svedberg will be restricted free agents. They will be joined by Torey Krug and Reilly Smith if the Bruins are unable to re-sign the pair beyond this season.
CSNNE’s Joe Haggerty notes Boychuk’s desire to remain a Bruin, along with the potential difficulty of re-signing him. He also reports the Bruins could use another scoring right winger. Citing the Oilers need for a skilled blueliner and their forward depth, he suggests a swap of Boychuk for Nail Yakupov could be a long-term solution for both clubs.
The Edmonton Journal’s David Staples dismisses the possibility of a Boychuk-Yakupov swap. He doubts the Oilers would pursue a defenseman eligible for UFA status following this season. Despite Yakupov’s struggles last season, Staples doesn’t believe the Oilers will give up on the young winger.
Haggerty also suggests Oilers winger David Perron, Winnipeg’s Evander Kane, Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg or Detroit’s Tomas Tatar as possible trade targets if the Bruins shop Boychuk. The Jets, however, appear intent to start the season with Kane. Boychuk would address the Wings need for a right-handed defenseman but they’d likely be unwilling to part with Tatar. The Ducks recently re-signed Silfverberg to a one-year deal.
One of Haggerty’s readers suggests the bold move of shopping Bruins captain Zdeno Chara, but the pundit doubts they’ll go to that extreme. If the Bruins were to move Chara, Haggerty believes they’ll need “an exit strategy,” as there’s currently no one on their roster who can fill Chara’s role.
Rumor Roundup appears regularly only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Eishockey News and The Guardian (P.E.I.).
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