“It’s been a tough year, but to get claimed on a team like the Predators, it feels great,” Predators forward Zack Boychuk said the morning after he scored his first goal of the season in what was also his first game for Nashville.
“I was very excited. [Pittsburgh GM] Ray Shero called me and said he had very good news for me. He said I was going to Nashville. There are a lot of things going through your mind, but excited to get another opportunity and to stay in the NHL. I hope to take advantage of it this time.
“It felt pretty good to contribute early,” Boychuk said, though the 2008 first-round draft pick was a healthy scratch Tuesday night against the Dallas Stars.
The Predators claimed Boychuk from the Pittsburgh Penguins on Mar. 5. Boychuk had gone scoreless in seven games with the Penguins before the decision to waive the Alberta native was made. The Penguins had picked up Boychuk off of waivers from the Carolina Hurricanes earlier in the season.
He added, “It has been a roller coaster ride. There have been a lot of ups and downs, but hopefully this is the spot I am going to stay.”
While the 23-year old is currently living in a hotel in Nashville, he hopes that situation will change soon. In fact, Boychuk says there is a chance he might move in with Predators sophomore forward Craig Smith.
While Boychuk understands the waiver process is just another part of the business of hockey, it is his family who he worries about.
“They are definitely supportive,” he said. “It is probably tough for them to be cheering for a different team all the time, but hopefully this is the team we can stick with for a long time.”
In 82 career NHL contests, Boychuk has 8 goals and 11 assists.
Boychuk isn’t the only Predators recent waiver-wire acquisition with family considerations.
One day prior to obtaining Boychuk, the Predators also claimed right wing Bobby Butler off waivers from the New Jersey Devils. Butler played in 14 contests for the Devils this season registering one goal and one assist.
After the current five-game road trip, Butler’s family will be joining him in Nashville, where he also is currently residing in a hotel.
“This is a great city with great weather, so I’m happy to be here,” Butler said about joining the Predators organization. “It felt awesome [to be claimed]. It’s part of the job so you just go with it and see what happens. You either clear or you don’t; it is a crazy business.”
The former University of New Hampshire star went undrafted in the NHL and was a Hobey Baker finalist in 2010, the year that former Predator Blake Geoffrion won the coveted award for the top NCAA hockey player.
Butler has seen his ice time increase almost 10 minutes a game with the Predators so far in his first three contests. While producing scoring chances and drawing penalties seemed to be his specialty after his first game against Edmonton, it wasn’t his on-ice play that stuck out to him about Smashville, it was the people in the stands.
“There is a great crowd [here], so it was awesome [to play that first game].”
Boychuk and Butler might be the most recent waiver wire acquisitions for the Predators this season, but they aren’t the only ones as Rich Clune was also claimed by Nashville from Los Angeles at the start of the season. The new forwards can only hope to make the same impact as the feisty forward, who has three goals and two assists in 25 contests this season.