Bruins’ Boychuk captures Eddie Shore Award

SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League announced today that Johnny Boychuk of the Providence Bruins has been named the winner of the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL’s outstanding defenseman for the 2008-09 season, as voted by AHL coaches, players and members of the media in each of the league’s 29 cities.

Boychuk, a fifth-year pro in his first season in the Boston Bruins organization, currently leads all AHL defensemen with 20 goals, 43 assists and 63 points (a Providence franchise record for a blueliner) and has registered a plus-21 rating while playing in 73 of the club’s first 74 games. Boychuk’s five game-winning goals are also tops among AHL rearguards, and he has either scored or assisted on 34 of his team’s 59 power-play goals on the season (57.6 percent). Boychuk has also been credited with 273 shots on goal, already the most by an AHL defenseman since 2002.

A 25-year-old native of Edmonton, Alta., Boychuk was a second-round draft choice by Colorado in 2002 and was acquired by Boston from the Avalanche on June 24, 2008. He began the 2008-09 season with a six-game scoring streak, including a goal in his Providence debut on Oct. 8. Boychuk was voted into the starting lineup for the Canadian team at the 2009 AHL All-Star Classic, was a co-winner of the CCM/AHL Player of the Month award for March, and was named a First Team AHL All-Star earlier this week. Boychuk has totaled 47 goals and 117 assists for 164 points in 367 career AHL games and has also skated in five NHL contests, including one this season with Boston.

This award, which was first presented by the AHL in 1959, honors the late Eddie Shore, a member of the Hockey Hall of Famer and the American Hockey League Hall of Fame widely regarded as one of hockey’s greatest defensemen. Shore won a total of five Calder Cups in his career, including two as the general manager of the Buffalo Bisons and three as the longtime owner of the Springfield Indians. Previous winners include Steve Kraftcheck (1959), Al Arbour (1965), Noel Price (1970, ’72, ’76), Brian Engblom (1977), Terry Murray (1978, ’79), Brad Shaw (1987), Dave Fenyves (1988, ’89), Eric Weinrich (1990), Darren Rumble (1997), John Slaney (2001, ’02), Curtis Murphy (2003, ’04), Niklas Kronwall (2005), Sheldon Brookbank (2007) and Andrew Hutchinson (2008).

Currently in its 73rd season of play, the AHL continues to serve as the top development league for all 30 National Hockey League teams. More than 85 percent of today’s NHL players are American Hockey League graduates, and more than 50 million fans have attended AHL games across North America since the start of the 2001-02 season.