Boychuk targets role in NHL with Hurricanes

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Greg Forwerck, Carolina Hurricanes
Greg Forwerck, Carolina Hurricanes

RALEIGH, N.C. – Zach Boychuk is staying with the Carolina Hurricanes, the team that drafted him with their top pick (14th overall) in 2008, and the team that he wants to earn a regular spot and role playing for in the National Hockey League (NHL).

As the business day was nearing an end on Tuesday, Jason Karmanos, Hurricanes executive vice president and assistant general manager announced that the team had agreed to terms with the 23-year-old forward.

The deal will pay Boychuk $550,000 at the NHL level or $105,000 at the American Hockey League (AHL) level for the 2013-14 season.

The agreement didn’t come quickly as it took seven weeks for both sides to come to terms after the Hurricanes made qualifying offers to five RFA’s, including Boychuk, back in early July.

“I’m glad that it’s done,” Boychuk said.

“Now that I know where I’m going to be this year, I can focus on the eventual goal, and that’s playing in the NHL.”

Boychuk split the 2012-13 season between Carolina, Pittsburgh and Nashville at the NHL level finishing with two points (1g, 1a) in 13 games played, as well as playing with Charlotte in the AHL where he ranked second among Checkers skaters in goals (23) and third in points (43).

His travels outside of Carolina came about as a result of being placed on waivers three different times beginning on Jan. 31 before the Hurricanes reclaimed him back into the organization on March 21.

Boychuk had played in only one game with Carolina after being called up from Charlotte during the beginning of the lockout-shortened season in January.

He was then listed as a healthy scratch for four straight games, placed on waivers, and as a result was picked up by the Penguins.

After playing seven games in February with Pittsburgh and not registering a point, he sat for nine straight games before being placed on waivers again, and was subsequently claimed by the Predators.

He tallied his lone NHL points of the season, a goal and an assist, while playing in five games with Nashville before he was a listed as a healthy scratch for two games before once again being placed on the waiver wire to finally be taken back by the Hurricanes.

Though he returned to the organization, Boychuk didn’t make it back to Raleigh or the NHL, and finished the season in Charlotte.

“It’s been an interesting four years,” Boychuk said.

“I’d like to be a full-time NHL player and that hasn’t quite happened for me yet. Now it’s to the point where I gotta’ put the work in.”

Boychuk looks forward to showing head coach Kirk Muller that he can do the job and is capable of being a contributing member of the Hurricanes during the upcoming season.

He was skating regularly back home in Alberta since mid-July, and arrived in Raleigh on Monday to join informal on-ice sessions that other Hurricanes players started last week at Raleigh Center Ice, the Hurricanes’ practice facility.

“I’ve been on the ice quite a bit and I feel really good,” Boychuk said.

“Obviously, the difference this year is coming down early and trying to get ahead with all the guys that are skating here right now. It’s nice to get some chemistry with the guys and to be here working with the Hurricanes staff, and hopefully that leads to a great training camp.”

Boychuk’s deal added yet another to the long list of one-year signings that Carolina has completed to date, and has set the stage for what should be one of the most competitive training camps that the team has held in recent years.

After literally making the rounds last season, Boychuk knows that he is only person that can influence Muller, his staff and the team’s management to award him a spot on the team’s roster and a job playing in the NHL.

“I feel that I can bring energy and play hard,” he said.

“It’s going to be up to me to carry that role.”