The Carolina Hurricanes first round draft pick of this year, Zach Boychuk, will make his NHL debut tonight in Los Angeles. Boychuk has been a bright surpise this camp, impressing the coaching staff enough to keep him around even though he did not play a single exhibition game and has been practicing injured.
From what I gather, the coaches like the kid's spunk as well as his skill. He's had a wide-eyed "nothing will stop me" look about him since training camp started. But he also brings plenty of skill to back up his attitude. Jim Rutherford was quoted as saying that he's done things "that I've never seen before". Now that's impressive.
Boychuk has been a consistent point a game player while in the juniors and scored 33 goals last year as well as 31 the year before. He added 13 goals in last year's playoffs. Will he be able to transition that success from juniors to the NHL? That's the question on everyone's mind.
He'll have just nine games to prove himself. If he plays ten, the Canes will be unable to send him back to Lethbridge, his juniors team. This year would then count against his three year entry level contract.
The rumors have been out in full force concerning the Hurricanes intention of trading a defenseman for a forward. But perhaps if Boychuk performs well and makes the team, the need to add the forward would not be as urgent.
Not to put anymore pressure on the youngster...
In other game related news-
Tuomo Ruutu re-injured himself and is doubtful for tonight's game. He has not practiced with the team this week. Chad LaRose has been filling in for him in practice, but there is a chance that either Cullen or maybe even Boychuk might slip up to Staal's line as well.
It seems a bit odd that they are not giving Eaves a chance up there, especially after starting out with him on that line earlier this year. He was supposedly the "player to watch" and was pegged to chip in with 20 goals or more this season. Has the coaching staff given up on him already?
I would expect a lot of mixing and matching of lines tonight.
- Staal, Whitney, LaRose
- Brind'Amour, Samsonov, Bayda
- Cullen, Eaves, Boychuk
- Sutter, Brookbank, LaCouture
- Pitkanen, Gleason
- Corvo, Kaberle
- Wallin, Seidenberg
It's been reported that Los Angeles will start Jason LaBarbara in goal for the fourth straight game. The 6'3 goalie takes up a lot of space, but has a lifetime 3.06 GAA.
Ex-Canes prospect Jack Johnson will not play. He has a shoulder injury which will keep him out of action for about three months. Rookie defenseman Drew Doughty is expected to play. This was a player that many were hoping the Canes would pick in this year's draft, but the Kings grabbed him first.
Gametime is at 10:30 eastern.