BOSTON — Last season, Adam McQuaid was with the Bruins’ Providence farm club when Johnny Boychuk was waiting to crack the NHL lineup.
Boychuk skated in three games in October but didn’t dress for a single game in November and even went through an AHL conditioning stint to keep sharp in early December. Of course, we all know how the spring went for Johnny Boychuk.
Not only was Boychuk one of Boston’s most vital defensemen and minutes-played leaders in the second half all the way through two playoff series, he also became a coveted free agent and re-signed with the Bruins for two years for a little more than $3.5 million before he hit the open market.
If McQuaid has his druthers, he’ll follow a path similar to Boychuk’s — ironically enough, while Boychuk is out of action due to injury. After sitting as a healthy scratch for the season’s first six games, McQuaid is scheduled to play tonight at TD Garden against Toronto in the Bruins’ first game since Boychuk suffered a broken bone in his arm last Saturday.
McQuaid, who skated in 19 games in the regular season for Boston last season and re-signed with the club as a restricted free agent for two years over the summer, has been working as hard in practice to stay ready this fall as Boychuk did last year. And, McQuaid said, his teammates and coaches have all been verbally keeping him positive. Now it’s just a matter of the 24-year-old defenseman impressing the brass enough to stay in the lineup even when Boston’s back-line corps is at full health.
“I definitely think it’s an opportunity,” said McQuaid after this morning’s pregame skate. “You see what Johnny did last year, he came in and obviously he did extremely well. But he got his chance and he made the most of it. I think that’s the way you have to look at it. I don’t want to look at it as a temporary thing. I’d like to prove myself and hopefully stay in the lineup.”