BOSTON -- With three days until the regular season opener, Boston Bruins defenseman Johnny Boychuk can breathe a slight sigh of relief.
The Bruins are probably done making cuts and the winner of last season's Eddie Shore Award as the best defenseman in the AHL is still in the NHL.
"Well, I'm still here, so obviously I accomplished something," said Boychuk today. "I just have to keep working hard and keep at it. I can't really get too comfortable just yet."
Boychuk showed up at camp with a one-way contract, so he was the odds-on favorite to win the seventh defenseman slot with the Bruins. But he still had to go out and hold off some journeymen and rookie challengers for the position. He finished the exhibition season with one goal, one assist and an even plus/minus rating in five games.
"Everything's been going great. There's been a couple times when I thought I maybe should've scored a couple more times, but I think that's everybody that can say that at any time or part of the game. Your best critic is you," said Boychuk, who used the hardest shot in the AHL to total 20 goals last season.
While Boychuk probably won't dress for games for a while -- at least until there's an injury or head coach Claude Julien decides he needs to make a change -- he needs to stay ready if something happens to force him into action. Last season, veteran Shane Hnidy and then-rookie Matt Hunwick were in Boychuk's position and they both contributed to the Bruins' success in a pinch.
"If I play or not, I've still got to come to the rink and work hard and expect to be playing," said Boychuk, who has five games of NHL experience including one contest last season with Boston. "I'm not going to come to the rink and go, 'Oh, I'm not playing.' And then all of a sudden I'm going to be playing (and not be ready)."
News and notes
While Boychuk is staying in Boston, the six players waived Saturday (Dany Sabourin, Drew Larman, Trent Whitfield, Andy Wozniewski, Drew Fata and Guillaume Lefebvre) all cleared waivers and were assigned to Providence. & General manager Peter Chiarelli said he expects the waiver wire and trade talk to heat up tomorrow with teams having to set their rosters by 3 p.m. Wednesday. "I'll probably be fielding some calls but I don't anticipate doing anything," he said.
Matt Kalman covers the Bruins for ESPNBoston.com. He has been on the Bruins beat since the lockout for numerous publications and has been covering the Boston sports scene for a decade. Send any questions for Matt to his mailbag and he might answer them in his Bruins mailbag.