February 27, 2012 4:09 PM
With yet another injury hitting the Carolina Hurricanes’ forward ranks, the team has recalled Zach Boychuk from Charlotte for the second time this season.
When the Canes take on Nashville Tuesday, Boychuk is expected to play his first NHL game since Nov. 20. That would make it his first chance to play under the Hurricanes’ Kirk Muller, as the team’s coaching change did not occur until one week after Boychuk rejoined the Checkers. All but two of Boychuk’s 69 NHL games have come under the leadership of Paul Maurice, with Peter Laviolette in charge for his first professional games in October of 2008.
As has been the case for each Charlotte forward recalled during Muller’s tenure, Boychuk, who joins Drayson Bowman and Jerome Samson in Raleigh, should get to feature in a prominent scoring role as the team begins to assess players heading into the offseason.
“When guys come in now, the Bowmans and the Samsons, they’re getting to play in the top nine,” Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford told the media in Raleigh. “They’re not just sitting there playing five or six minutes, so we’re getting a better read on those guys.”
Boychuk heads to Carolina as the Checkers’ second-highest scorer with 32 points (14, 18a) in 45 games. With Bowman and Samson already gone, the Hurricanes now have three of Charlotte’s top six scorers.
Of the Hurricanes three injured forwards, a group that includes Patrick Dwyer, Chad LaRose and Tuomo Ruutu, Rutherford gave the shortest timeline to LaRose, suggested he could be back in a week. That would make it a close call as to whether or not the Checkers would get a player back in time for their two-game road trip to Lake Erie that begins Saturday.
Even if they do not get help from Raleigh in that time period, they will likely be able to dress a full lineup with the anticipated return of Chris Durno, who has not played since Dec. 30 but came very close to suiting up for the team’s most recent game on Saturday. Riley Nash has also resumed skating since a Feb. 10 injury but has not yet practiced with the team.
Boychuk’s recall will be the only change in a day that had the potential for a much greater shakeup, as the Hurricanes chose to stand pat on the day of the NHL’s trade deadline. The most likely spots to open up for an upcoming Checkers player were on defense, but the team instead elected to keep the duo of Bryan Allen and Jaroslav Spacek.