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Boychuk placed on waivers

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The Canes placed forward Zach Boychuk, a former first-round draft pick, on NHL waivers Wednesday with the purpose of reassigning him to the Charlotte Checkers (AHL).

But will Boychuk clear waivers?

NHL teams have until noon Thursday to claim Boychuk. There could be a team that sees a need for a winger who was leading the Checkers in scoring this season before being recalled by the Hurricanes for NHL training camp.

"There's that risk, but it doesn't do him any good not playing here," general manager Jim Rutherford said Wednesday. "We have Drayson (Bowman) and Zac (Dalpe) in the top nine (forwards). It's hard to have three first-year guys like that in the top nine. For Zach Boychuk to be sitting around will not do him any good, so we'll see where it goes."

Boychuk, 23, had 16 goals and 16 assists in 37 games in Charlotte before the recall, which also brought Dalpe and Bowman to Raleigh from the Checkers. Boychuk made the Canes' roster and was on Eric Staal's line at left wing opposite Alex Semin in the season opener at Florida, but has been made a healthy scratch the past four games by Canes coach Kirk Muller.

"I don't think it had anything to do with how he played (at Florida)," Rutherford said. "Kirk is moving guys around. Putting any first-year guy on that line is very difficult because he ends up playing against the other team's top players. It just makes it too hard for them.

"Once the coaches plug all the players in, 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."

Boychuk, listed at 5-10 and 185 pounds, was the 14th overall pick of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft. He has played in 73 NHL games for the Canes.

Boychuk attended a Greater Raleigh Sports Council luncheon with the Canes on Wednesday but said the text messages started rolling in.

"This is tough," he said. "I've never been through a situation like being on waivers. This is new for me."

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And now we learn that

And now we learn that Boychuk is headed for Pittsburgh. Maybe a fresh start will do him good. On the other hand, I don't want to see him score goals against us -- Sutter will surely do that too.

Jury is still out on Boychuk

My concern is that Zach, although playing in a significant number of NHL games, was never really given a good consistent look in the top 6 forwards. The majority of his games, he was buried on the fourth line and was not given the opportunity to gel with line mates in a scoring role. This year again, it was one and done. Is he an NHL caliber player...I'm still not sure. My guess is we'll find out soon enough when he is picked up by another team.

Boychuk will be an RFA after

Boychuk will be an RFA after this season. He is not a 4th line grinder. If he cannot crack the top nine -- and he has had numerous chances in Raleigh -- then I suspect the Canes would have cut him loose after the season anyway.

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About the blogger

A Raleigh native, Chip has worked at the N&O since 1979 and is the Canes beat writer. He can be reached at chip.alexander@newsobserver.com. You can follow him on Twitter at @ice_chip.
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