Boychuk, 23, appeared in Carolina’s season opener against the Florida Panthers and had not dressed for the team’s four games since.
Overall, I’m happy for him – he’s a good player,“ Hurricanes head coach Kirk Muller said after practice on Thursday.
“When you look at the type of player and the personnel we have, it was tough to fit him in. He certainly can fit in with certain players. We just felt he’s more of a guy that needs to be in the top nine. We didn’t feel like that spot was there right now.”
Risk you have to take
Drafted by the Hurricanes in the first round (14th overall) of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, Boychuk scored seven goals and earned 11 assists (18 points) in 73 career NHL games with the Hurricanes.
Entering his fifth professional season with Carolina, Boychuk had signed a one-year deal back in late July that gave him an extended shot at landing a regular roster spot with the team.
However, that spot never surfaced during this lockout-shortened season that has required many teams to make personnel decisions quickly and with risk involved.
Thus, seeing that Boychuk was not in the current mix to play on the team’s top three lines, the Hurricanes felt he needed to get more playing time, and returning him to the team's American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate club, the Charlotte Checkers, was necessary.
It was a move they had to make and a risk that they understood the ramifications of taking.
In reassigning him to Charlotte, where he still stood as the team’s scoring leader (16g, 16a in 37 games), Boychuk had to clear waivers first, and with the possibility of another team claiming him for nothing in return.
The Penguins saw that he could fill a void within their organization, so they picked him up during the window of opportunity that was available.
Thus, for Checkers fans, he will not return to pick up where he left off in the Queen City.
“He played hard, he did what he had to do,” Muller said.
“He put up numbers in Charlotte.”
Represented the organization well
For a talented and personable young player like Boychuk, who was an exceptional representative of the organization in both Raleigh and Charlotte, a new beginning was exactly what he needed.
He now gets the opportunity to stay in the NHL a little while longer, this time with the Penguins, to show that he can play in this league.
For the Hurricanes, losing a top AHL scorer and first overall draft pick from their system, with four years invested in him, didn’t work to their favor for one reason or another.
It seems that for both the player and the team, it was a situation that was going to happen sooner or later.
As the saying goes, ‘everything happens for a reason’.