RALEIGH — Much of the talk throughout the Carolina Hurricanes’ week-long training camp leading up to the season opener was about forwards Zach Boychuk and Zac Dalpe playing on the first and second lines, respectively.
Meanwhile, Drayson Bowman quietly went through the motions and just kept plugging away on the fourth line.
But come game time Saturday, Bowman was one of the best skaters on the ice for the Hurricanes against the Florida Panthers. He also was rewarded Monday with a shift to the first line alongside Eric Staal and Alexander Semin.
“I liked the way Bowman was skating and his size and speed,” Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller said Monday. “So I gave him an opportunity to skate up there with Staal and Semin.”
Bowman finished with a team-high five shots on goal Saturday. Though he did not find the back of the net, he was part of the fourth line with Patrick Dwyer, who scored the Canes’ lone goal in the 5-1 loss.
Dwyer believes the moves on Monday might be just the beginning as the team tries to find some cohesion.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see more changes throughout the next two weeks,” Dwyer said. “We’re trying to find guys who complement each other. Once the dust settles, I think we’re going to have four lines that can really play.”
Bowman’s career hasn’t been extraordinary to this point. The 23-year-old has played in just 70 games with the Hurricanes, and he has just eight goals and 16 points on 120 total shots on goal.
Asked Monday about the chance to play on the first line, Bowman almost instinctively talked about helping create opportunities for Staal and Semin.
“Hopefully I’ll be able to skate and open up some things for them,” Bowman said. “Then get out on the forecheck and hunt that puck down.”
This isn’t be the first time that Bowman has been on the first line, but it is his first time skating with Semin. Though he said he was comfortable on Saturday with his line, he certainly didn’t seem upset with the move upward.
“I’m feeling pretty comfortable,” Bowman said. “I’ve played a fair amount of games now. There’s no reason not to play my best and make the most of it. I felt like I played pretty well in the first game and got this opportunity.
“But now I just have to keep doing what I do – skate hard and shoot the puck – and the rest of the stuff will take care of itself.”
Dwyer, like Bowman, played his way into the NHL from the American Hockey League. The two once were teammates on the Albany River Rats when the Rats were the Canes’ affiliate.
“He’s a good kid and he works hard,” Dwyer said.
“I’ve played with him for a number of years now, in Albany and here. He’s earned this shot, it wasn’t given to him. It’s great to see him go up.
“For his sake and for the team’s, I hope that he succeeds.”