When the Carolina Hurricanes drafted Zach Boychuk 14th overall in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, they thought they were getting a speedy, offensively-gifted forward who could score big goals. The Canes knew the risk was high (listed generously at 5'10" and 185 lbs) but they had been rewarded with smaller players before. After only 56 games, Boychuk has scored a measly seven goals and nine assists - leaving many to wonder where the player is that scored 270 points over four years of junior hockey.
Last season Boychuk contributed minimally during the course of the year. He only played about a quarter of the season with the Canes and found the net a mere four times. His ice time bounced between 5-15 minutes any given night depending on game situations. Sometimes he found himself playing with Eric Staal on the top line, other times he played cleanup roles on the third and fourth lines.
So have we still not seen the best out of this young gun or has Boychuk been passed by his fellow prospects on the road to the NHL?
More after the jump.
#11 / Left Wing / Carolina Hurricanes
Oct 4, 1989
Boychuk was once touted as the highest-rated prospect in the Hurricanes system, now players like Zac Dalpe, Brian Dumoulin and Justin Faulk are pressing to make the cut in Carolina and leaving Boychuk in the dust.
Not to say that Boychuk doesn't have a role within the franchise. He is always a scoring threat at the AHL level and continually shows glimpses of a promising future in stints with the Canes. Boychuk has scored over 100 points with the Albany River Rats/Charlotte Checkers despite splitting time between the AHL and the Hurricanes in his two full professional seasons.
This season might provide somewhat of a crossroads for the 21 year-old winger. The youth movement still continues to roll through Carolina and there will certainly be a roster spot for Boychuk if he can earn it. The real question is how many more chances will Boychuk be provided before Rutherford loses patience or he becomes a tradable asset.
So what does the Caniac Nation think? Instead of ranking Boychuk's previous seasons, the vote this time will be this: What does Boychuk have a produce in order to remain in good graces with the team?