RALEIGH — In what has already been a week of new beginnings, the Carolina Hurricanes were part of another one Friday when winger Valentin Zykov was claimed off waivers by Edmonton.
Zykov — who led the AHL in goals last season with 33 goals in just 63 games, plus added three more with the Hurricanes in 10 games in 2017-18 — never found his spot in new coach Rod Brind’Amour’s plans, logging a total of 126:46 in 13 games.
That’s an average of 9:45 a night. You could certainly argue Zykov didn’t get a chance to prove his worth this season, but a quarter of his ice time (2:27 per night) was on the power play and he managed just three assists, two on special teams.
Yes, Carolina’s power play was putrid to start the year (so chicken or egg?), but Zykov is someone who earned his two-year, $1.35 million one-way deal on the strength back of his power play production. Seventeen of his 33 goals with the Checkers last season came on the power play, and in all he scored 24 of his 58 AHL goals (in 180 games) on the man advantage.
With Micheal Ferland filling that role this season with the Hurricanes — six of his team-leading 11 goals are on the power play — Zykov didn’t establish himself.
Given that Ferland has filled out a line next to Sebastian Aho and Teuvo Teravainen this season — the spot Zykov spent much of his 10-game recall last year — it would have made sense then that Zykov could have gotten his chance in the top-nine Friday against Anaheim with Ferland sidelined with a concussion.
But that wasn’t meant to be, with Aho instead moving to the wing as Brind’Amour reunites the TSA line with Jordan Staal in the middle.
Despite the points Aho has put up at center this season (7-18-25 in 24 games), Brind’Amour has always been seemingly lukewarm on Aho playing in the middle. With the return of Victor Rask from injury and the need for some scoring power on the wing with Ferland out, it seems like a perfect storm for Brind’Amour to try Aho back on the wing.
Only time will tell if Aho’s shift back to the wing and the no-return loss of Zykov will prove to be the right moves.
Darling clears waivers, joins Checkers
As expected, goaltender Scott Darling cleared waivers and was assigned to AHL Charlotte. If you need background, here you go.