Just when it seemed as though they might be in line for some much-needed help, the Checkers’ recent string of bad luck continued on Tuesday.
At noon, news hit that the Nashville Predators had claimed forward Zach Boychuk on waivers from Pittsburgh, blocking a possible return to Charlotte. The 23-year-old forward, who led the Checkers in scoring with 32 points at the time of his last game played with the team on Jan. 11, now heads to his third NHL team of the season.
The Checkers, already without forwards Zac Dalpe, Andreas Nodl, Jerome Samson (injury), Riley Nash and Brett Sutter (NHL recall), had felt the relative lack of scoring depth in recent games. Though they managed a respectable five goals in a recent two-game set with the Oklahoma City Barons, they took just 38 total shots during that time.
Their 18 shots on Monday avoided tying the franchise-low for a single game by just one, which is also the total amount of shots they mustered in that game’s second period. In their last nine games, the Checkers have been out-shot eight times.
Aside from making up for some missing firepower, Boychuk’s return would have also rounded out a lineup that may be missing another player for Wednesday’s game in Norfolk. Justin Shugg left Monday’s game with a lower-body injury and did not return, with coach Jeff Daniels providing no update on his condition following that game.
As it stands, the Checkers may need to bring up in player to face the Admirals. That person would be the 10th player on the roster who started the season at the ECHL level. As of Monday morning, the existing group of nine included six forwards, one defenseman and two goalies.
Boychuk, 23, has 178 points in 215 career AHL contests with the Hurricanes’ top minor-league affiliates. He did not record a point in eight NHL games this season and had sat out each of Pittsburgh’s last eight as a healthy scratch.