That being said, certain aspects of Solo's life can't be ignored. It's a given that Chewbacca will play a big role in this film, for one. Scoundrel Han or no, omitting the furry arm-ripper would remove an integral part of his life, and leave the film feeling incomplete. So the real question isn't "will Chewie be there?" but rather "how are they going to introduce him?" As George Lucas proved with the prequels, writing a good origin story isn't easy, and writing a bad one can be just plain destructive. So however Han and Chewie meet, it needs to be done extremely well.
The good news is, current canon is rather vague about their first meeting. All we know is that Chewbacca was an Imperial slave until Han freed him, and that Chewie swore a life debt to Solo as a result. That leaves plenty of room for all sorts of crazy stories and interesting interactions between the two. And no sap—this should not be a bromance at first sight. Probably, Solo should free Chewbacca for selfish reasons, as he witnesses the Wookiee's strength first-hand and wants to use him to make smuggling easier. In fact, since Solo needs to remain scum, don't have the two become full-fledged friends at all! We know that, eventually, they do, and we don't really need to know how. Just get them together in a fun way, and save the "awww" moments for our imaginations.