News that he’d been placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes with the intention of being sent back to the Charlotte Checkers for a fifth season came as a disappointment to forward Zach Boychuk.
Fresh off a season in which he claimed the Willie Marshall Award as the American Hockey League’s top goal scorer (with 36) and was named a second-team AHL All-Star, Boychuk felt he had entered training camp more prepared than ever.
That’s what made his call into Hurricanes first-year coach Bill Peters’ office on Monday a tough one.
“I’m extremely disappointed,” said Boychuk, who cleared waivers Tuesday and is set to begin skating with Charlotte on Wednesday. “Obviously, after the year I had last year, I thought I was making strides. I put everything I had into this summer with the hope of being in Raleigh.”
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Boychuk, who turned 25 Saturday, said he did well in all the fitness testing, but that for whatever reason, things didn’t come together in the exhibitions.
Monday’s conversation with Peters was tough, he said, but because of the way in which it was handled, the former NHL first-round pick in 2008 (14th overall) exited feeling his future is still in Raleigh.
“(Peters) said that, ‘It looks like, to me, that you’re a bit of a slow starter,’ ” Boychuk said. “He then went through my whole career and jotted down some notes. That’s different than things have been in the past.
“He wanted to get a feel for what my career has been like. He even said that he wants to talk to my junior coach. It’s made me feel like there is a plan for me in the future here – and that’s exciting.”
Boychuk’s statistics support Peters’ point. Through Boychuk’s first 20 games with Charlotte last season, he scored six goals. Over his final 49 games, he had 30.
Boychuk ranks second all time on the Checkers in goals (102), assists (124), points (226), power-play points (102), power-play assists (56) and game-winning goals (17).
“Coming down, I’m going to need to play similar to the way I did last year,” Boychuk said. “They told me that I didn’t play with enough desperation and intensity. They said, ‘We wanted you to play in camp like you did when you got called up last year,’ and that was to play like every shift could be my last.
“I needed to skate harder and finish more checks. If I had, the results would have been different. I’m going to do everything I can to be a leader on this team and help the young guys develop and be a go-to guy for Charlotte for as long as it takes.”