There always seems to be room in the NHL for a defensive defenseman with a gritty side.

Andrew Bodnarchuk hopes that continues to be the case, and that his lack of size doesn’t leave him behind.

Bodnarchuk, who re-signed with Boston as a restricted free agent this summer, made the requisite strides in his development last season, mostly with Providence (AHL). After battling both growing pains and injury problems in his first pro season, Bodnarchuk (now 22) posted 5-10-15 totals in 70 games played.

Always an excellent skater, Bodnarchuk started to make the necessary adjustments to limit his mistakes and penalties. He still needs to grow both physically and positionally. Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli recently commended Bodnarchuk for simplifying his game. One half of a solid shutdown D pair with Adam McQuaid (whenever McQuaid was wth the P-Bruins), Bodnarchuk might still have some offensive upside. Of course, he’ll probably never lose the ruggedness that really makes him a potential NHLer.

Bodnarchuk got a five-game taste of the NHL last season. The Bruins hope they’re healthy on their blue line this season, but if Boston suffers injury problems it could summon Bodnarchuk again this winter.

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