After a week of bad news in terms of players leaving their roster for long periods of time, the Checkers could be set for an unexpected boost.
Forward Zach Boychuk, who was the team’s scoring leader at the time of his last game played with the team in mid-January, is back on waivers, this time courtesy of the Pittsburgh Penguins. The Penguins, who originally claimed Boychuk from Carolina on Jan. 31, had made him a healthy scratch for each of their last eight games.
Boychuk, 23, began his Penguins career by playing seven games on a line with Evgeni Malkin and James Neal. He did not record a point during that time.
Boychuk is now available to be claimed by any other NHL team, though Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News and Observer
at the time of his previous claim that Carolina would bring him back if given the opportunity.
His return would be welcomed with open arms in Charlotte, where Andreas Nodl and Zac Dalpe recently suffered significant injuries that will limit (in Dalpe’s case) or eliminate (Nodl’s) their ability to play down the stretch. While Boychuk wouldn’t be able to compensate directly for the loss of goalie Justin Peters, on his way to Carolina to help fill in for an injured Cam Ward, any little bit will help.
Contrary to earlier reports, CarolinaHurricanes.com confirmed Monday
that the team does not have the first right of refusal on Boychuk and could lose a claim to any team lower than it in the standings. However, Carolina is the only team that could claim Boychuk and then assign him directly to its AHL affiliate. Any other team would have to keep him in the NHL and then place him back on waivers in order to make such an assignment, as the Penguins are doing now.
Results of the waiver process will not be known until noon Tuesday. Through Sunday’s games, Carolina ranked ninth in the NHL with 25 points (12-8-1).
Boychuk began his fourth professional campaign with 32 points in 37 games for Charlotte. He still ranks fifth on the team in scoring despite not playing in the AHL since Jan. 11, two days before NHL training camps officially began.