After undergoing wrist surgery in the summer and a subsequent procedure two weeks ago, 19-year-old Zach Boychuk
has finally been cleared for contact and will likely make his NHL debut Friday at Los Angeles or Sunday at Anaheim.
Although he's technically able to play in tonight's home game against the Red Wings, the team will take the three off days before Friday's game to ease Boychuk in to the lineup at practice and get him used to some NHL-level contact. After missing out on all of the Canes' exhibition games, he hasn't played a game at any level in four or five months.
“I’d definitely love to play, but I know they’d like to ease me into it and I definitely agree with that,” said Boychuk.
Instead, he'll take the days off to make sure he's completely ready - both physically and mentally.
“I need to sit down with the coaches and figure out what line in playing in and in what type of situation I’ll be in in the game," said Boychuk. "I want to know every part of the system so that I can play my best out there.”
All of the rehab with Boychuk's wrist has gone perfectly so far, and the player himself says the bone feels like new. Given the amount of injuries that have hit the Canes in recent past, having such a fast healer around can't hurt.
Boychuk's family and friends are already making plans to fly down to the Los Angeles area to see him play. It's actually a shorter trip for them than it would be to fly to Raleigh, as the Boychuk clan hails from western Canada.