While the Carolina Hurricanes were on the receiving end of James Reimer's first career shutout last night at Air Canada Centre, top prospect Zach Boychuk tried his darndest to single-handedly erase the donut on the scoresheet.
Recalled to the big club for the third time this season from the AHL's Charlotte Checkers, Boychuk posted four shots on net in the 3-0 loss, showing signs of what's to come from the swift-footed forward.
And while he didn't score, the 2008 first round draft pick (14th overall) has shown through the course of his career that he has little trouble finding the back of the net.
The 21-year old native of Airdrie, Alta. averaged nearly 28 goals per season (110 total in four seasons) between 2005-06 and 2008-09 playing for the Lethbridge Hurricanes and after splitting time last season between Carolina and the AHL Albany River Rats, Boychuk has tallied 15 goals and 39 points in 33 games for Charlotte this season.
Charlotte Head Coach and General Manager Jeff Daniels, who spent four seasons with the Hurricanes as an assistant coach, helping guide the team to a Stanley Cup championship in 2006, told PROSPECT PRESCRIPTION that Boychuk is well on his way to a thriving NHL career and that his most recent callup to Carolina may be his last as he is ready for prime time.
"I think he's close to sticking up there," offers Daniels. "Obviously, he's proven to them that he can play at that level. And he's earned the coaches' trust that he can play away from the puck. And that's what you have to do. Show that you can play well without the puck so that the coach can put you in any and all situations. And lately, when he's had a chance to go up, he's had a chance to play with an Eric Staal and an Erik Cole, so he's capable of playing with that caliber of player. He's definitely knocking on the door. He's back up again there again and maybe this is the time that he stays up for good."
A natural centre, Daniels has been playing Boychuk on right wing to great success.
"He's been playing mostly on his off wing, on the right side. He creates a lot of offence off the rush because he's very creative," explains Daniels. "He likes to cut across and use his quick shot, which catches a lot of goalies by surprise. And while he has that quick release, he also has a nose for the net. So he's very dangerous off the rush and on the cycle. But most importantly, he'll get his nose dirty. He'll go to those tough areas and take the hit to make the play. He's not a perimeter player."