Zach Boychuk is right back where he started.
That was the word out of Carolina on Thursday as the ‘Canes claimed the 23-year-old forward off waivers — 49 days after putting him on waivers.
And what wild 49 days it’s been.
Boychuk was first claimed from Carolina by Pittsburgh, and proceeded to play seven games with the Pens, getting a crack on a line with James Neal and Evgeni Malkin.
The experiment didn’t work out, however, and on Mar. 5 he was waived again — only to be picked up by the offensively-starved Nashville Predators.
Boychuk got off to a decent start with the Preds, scoring in his debut and chipping in with an assist two games later against Vancouver.
But it recently became apparent he wasn’t going to stick with the club.
Following a 4-3 loss to Columbus on Tuesday, head coach Barry Trotz cryptically alluded to “some guys [that] quite clearly can’t play at this level,” when speaking about his team.
The next day, Boychuk was on waivers — and Trotz made it clear who he was referring to.
“I think Zach has a lot of ability, but we really just didn’t see enough bite in his game to go further right now,” Trotz explained. “He is a project, but I think in time he could play in the league if he makes some of the right adjustments in his game.”
Trotz’s analysis didn’t phase the ‘Canes, probably because they never wanted to lose Boychuk in the first place — they had, after all, made him their first-round selection (14th overall) at the 2008 NHL Entry Draft and gave him a one-year deal last July.
“He’s a good player,” head coach Kirk Muller said upon losing Boychuk to Pittsburgh. “When you look at the type of player and the personnel we have, it was tough to fit him in. He certainly can fit in with certain players.
“We just felt he’s more of a guy that needs to be in the top nine. We didn’t feel like that spot was there right now.”
Maybe they do now.