After over five years in the Carolina Hurricanes organization, including three with the Checkers, Zach Boychuk is moving on.
At noon Thursday, the Pittsburgh Penguins claimed the 23-year-old forward on waivers, blocking the Hurricanes’ intention of reassigning him to Charlotte. Boychuk, the Hurricanes’ first round pick in 2008, started the NHL season with the Hurricanes but played just one game – the season opener on Jan. 19 – before sitting out the next four.
As a result of the claim, Boychuk will report directly to Pittsburgh, where he will reportedly skate on a line with Evgeni Malkin
. The Penguins could not assign him to their AHL affiliate, the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins, without first offering him back to Carolina. If that were to occur and Carolina took him back, the Hurricanes could then assign him to Charlotte without exposing him to the rest of the league for a second time.
Boychuk’s age, offensive upside (despite not playing in the AHL since Jan. 11, he is still the Checkers’ scoring leader with 32 points in 37 games) and contract situation (set to expire this summer at the minimum NHL salary), made him a low-risk claim for the Penguins. In Pittsburgh, Boychuk will be looking to break out at the NHL level, where he has 18 points (7g, 11a) in 73 total games with Carolina.
The Penguins now have the Hurricanes’ first-round picks in 2007 (Brandon Sutter) and 2008 (Boychuk) on their roster. They also own the rights to the Canes’ second-round pick in 2009 (Brian Dumoulin) who is currently playing with Wilkes-Barre.
Boychuk ranks second all-time among Checkers skaters in goals (59), assists (82) and points (141), trailing Chris Terry in each category.