There’s still some more red tape to clear, but Zach Boychuk is at least a little bit closer to rejoining the Checkers.
A topsy-turvy season for the forward who started the season in Charlotte continued Thursday when the Hurricanes claimed him off waivers from Nashville. It marked the third waiver claim of the season for the 23-year-old, who went from Carolina to Pittsburgh to Nashville and back to Carolina once again.
As if that wasn’t difficult enough to follow, now is when things get complicated. Before the Hurricanes could send Boychuk back to Charlotte, where he is still the team’s fifth-highest scorer with 32 points in 37 games despite not playing for the team since mid-January, he would have to go on waivers for a fourth time.
Should the Hurricanes begin that process in the coming days, Nashville, as the team which most recently lost him, would have the exclusive right to reclaim him and assign him directly to its AHL affiliate in Milwaukee. Any other team that claimed him would need waivers to make such assignment, which is the situation Carolina finds itself in now.
Milwaukee is currently one point out of a playoff spot with three more head-to-head meetings remaining against Charlotte, one of the teams it is looking to leapfrog in the standings. Boychuk’s former coach in Nashville, Barry Trotz, suggested Wednesday
that he still hoped Boychuk could contribute at the NHL level after with minor-league seasoning.
Of course, Carolina could also opt to keep Boychuk in the NHL, where he has been since training camps started after the lockout. However, Tuomo Ruutu’s anticipated return to the lineup against New Jersey on Thursday had already given the team two extra forwards, which would make it difficult for him to get playing time.
Meanwhile, the Checkers, whose injured list has now hit 11 players, including eight forwards, could certainly find a spot for him.
In five games with Nashville, Boychuk registered two points (1g, 1a) – his only points in 13 total games this season. He ranks second all-time among Checkers skaters in goals (59), assists (82) and points (141), trailing Chris Terry in each category.