Boychuk/By S. Bradley

By the messages in my email and in the comments section of the blog, I can tell that many of you are losing sleep over the Bruins’ re-signing of defenseman Johnny Boychuk.

It’s understandable that Boychuk emerged as a fan favorite in his rookie season, as he proved to be a hard-working and a bone-crushing hitter in the open ice. Unfortunately for the Bruins, they didn’t unleash the wrath of Boychuk in time to prevent him from earning unrestricted free agent status by not meeting a CBA-mandated number of games played that would have made him restricted.

Two weeks ago the Bruins showed that Dennis Seidenberg was their top priority as far as free agent defensemen are concerned by re-signing the German to a new four-year deal. When you factor that deal in with the other $15 million Boston has committed to four other defensemen, you might expect that re-signing Boychuk might be a little tough.

Today at ESPN.com, Pierre Lebrun reports that Boychuk’s agent is still optimistic about getting a deal done with Boston.

“We’re hopeful. I think it’s positive where we’re at,” Gerry Johansson told Lebrun Wednesday. “You never know how it’s going to end up, but our priority is to keep Johnny in Boston. It’s a nice option to [being UFA], but it’s certainly our intention to make it work with Boston. We’ve had good conversations.”

Here’s my analysis and speculation with regards to this situation:

I know Boychuk loves Boston, but he really has to look at the team and figure out where he fits in. Based on salary, and barring trades, Boychuk doesn’t figure to be a top-four guy — despite his best efforts last season. Again, that Andrew Ference extension is hindering the Bruins. Now if Boychuk stays, it’ll probably be for a number somewhere in the range of the $1.45 million Matt Hunwick makes. Would Boychuk accept a salary like that plus an undefined role with the big club in exchange for a two- or three-year commitment? We’ll find out between now and July 1.

If he hits the open market, the chance to make a little more money and be in somebody else’s top four might prove too tempting for Boychuk to stay in black and gold. Of course, if general manager Peter Chiarelli could make a move to get Hunwick, Ference or Dennis Wideman out of town for help on the wing, then Boychuk could comfortably put his signature on a new deal with Boston.