After other NHL teams blocked two previous attempts at the last minute, the Carolina Hurricanes have finally reassigned Zach Boychuk to Charlotte.
The move was made possible when Boychuk, the Checkers’ scoring leader at the time of his last AHL game on Jan. 11 (32 points in 37 games) cleared waivers at noon Saturday. He is now available for tonight’s road game against the Texas Stars, an important match-up if the Checkers have any hope of winning their division, joining Riley Nash as top-six forwards re-entering the lineup since the team’s last game on Thursday.
Sending Boychuk back to Charlotte had been the Hurricanes’ intention ever since Jan. 30, when they were forced to place their former first-round draft choice on waivers as a requirement due to his age and experience. The Pittsburgh Penguins blocked that move with a waiver claim, and the Nashville Predators blocked another claim by grabbing him from Pittsburgh on March 5.
Carolina took the first step towards a reunion by becoming the third team to claim Boychuk on waivers Thursday, and then had to place him there again the following day in order to get him back to Charlotte.
Since his last game with the Checkers, Boychuk played 13 NHL games with Carolina, Pittsburgh and Nashville, scoring two points (1g, 1a).
His return tonight – only unforeseen travel complications from Raleigh to Austin would prevent that from happening at this point – would give the Checkers two extra forwards, a rare change from the constant roster scrambling caused by recalls to the NHL and injuries. On Thursday, the team used four forwards who were on professional tryout contracts.
Even with the returns of Nash and Boychuk (still the team's No. 4 and 5 scorers, respectively), the Checkers would still be likely to have 11 players in tonight’s lineup that started the season in the ECHL, as none of their 11 injured players are expected to return.