The Penguins have claimed former Hurricanes left winger Zach Boychuk off waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes.
A first-round pick in 2008 (No. 14 overall), Boychuk, 23, has spent parts of five seasons in the NHL. In 73 career games with the Hurricanes, he had 18 points (seven goals, 11 assists).
A healthy scratch the past four games, Boychuk's only contest of the season saw him primarily play on the Hurricane's first line with center Eric Staal and right winger Alexander Semin. In a 5-1 road loss to the Panthers, Boychuk had 15:13 of ice time and recorded no points or shots.
A consistent goal-scorer at the AHL level, Boychuk (5-foot-10, 185 pounds) spent most of this season with Carolina's AHL affiliate, Charlotte, during the lockout. In 37 games with Charlotte this season, he produced 32 points (16 goals, 16 assists). He is a left-handed shot.
He is signed to a two-way contract and has a salary cap hit of $625,000 at the NHL level. He is scheduled to become a restricted free agent this summer.
Carolina had hoped to move him through waivers and return him to the AHL. Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford told the Raleigh News & Observer, "Boychuk’s not a fourth-line player in this league. He has to play somewhere, probably on the third line, and right now there’s guys ahead of him.”
To make room for Boychuk on the roster, the Penguins placed defenseman Matt Niskanen (ankle) on injured reserve.
A few highlights:
-EN Says: This is an intriguing move. Boychuk has some scoring upside as demonstrated by his success at the AHL. But he just hasn't been able to put it together at this level.
Size has been his biggest issue at the NHL level. But he offers skating ability and a willingness to get dirty in high traffic areas. Given some of the lack of production by wingers on the Penguins thus far this season, he could fill a variety of roles, possibly on Evgeni Malkin's wing.
That said, as implied by Rutherford, consistency at this level has been an issue with Boychuk.
Boychuk has potential and a change of scenery might do him good. But at the same time, he might end up being more of a repeat of Chris Bourque. At the very least, he increases the internal competition on the roster for playing time.
(Photo: Jim McIsaac/Getty Images)