Newly acquired Boychuk excited for fresh start with Penguins
New Penguins forward Zach Boychuk possesses an impressive pedigree.
Now he finds himself with an even more impressive opportunity.
Boychuk, a former first-round draft pick claimed off waivers from Carolina on Thursday, will begin his Penguins career Saturday afternoon on center Evgeni Malkin's left wing.
“It's exciting to be with superstars like they have here,” Boychuk said. “Hopefully, I can bring something.”
Boychuk never panned out in Raleigh. He seems to have developed a sense of confidence following a discussion he had with Carolina coach Kirk Muller.
In a sense, Boychuk took being put on waivers as a compliment.
“He said it was an (unusual) circumstance” Boychuk said. “Normally when a guy gets put on waivers, it's because he hadn't performed well or there was something they didn't like in his game. But he said he didn't have to go through that with me. He said basically that training camp was too short.”
Muller played Boychuk on his top line with center Eric Staal and right wing Alexander Semin to begin the season but quickly revamped his lines.
“He didn't want to put me on the fourth line,” Boychuk said. “He said he didn't expect me to clear waivers. It was a nice thing of him to do. He said it would be a good thing for me to get an opportunity somewhere else.”
Boychuk couldn't ask for a better opportunity. Eric Tangradi, Tyler Kennedy, Tanner Glass and Dustin Jeffrey have all been used on Malkin's line. None has stuck.
“Zach is a good hockey player,” said Brandon Sutter, who was Boychuk's teammate with the Hurricanes. “I've known him for a long time. He's a good skater, and he's got a lot of skill. I hope he finds his game and establishes himself. I'd love to see it.”
Boychuk will live with Sutter until he gets settled with the Penguins.
He also hopes to live on Malkin's line. Although Boychuk isn't known for being physical, his speed is something he hopes will create a niche with the Penguins.
Boychuk doesn't mind the pressure that comes with playing on a line with two stars.
“There's always pressure,” he said. “Any time you're in the NHL, there are eyes on you. You've got to perform. I think just jumping right in is the best way to do it.”
Playing beside the reigning NHL MVP against New Jersey — and perhaps against future Hall of Fame goaltender Martin Brodeur — should qualify as “jumping right in.”
Boychuk doesn't mind.
“I want to show my stuff and help the team,” he said. “Pittsburgh gave me an opportunity. I want to take advantage of it.”
Josh Yohe is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or via Twitter @JoshYohe_Trib.
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