If you go north on Highway 2 from Calgary, you can't miss the Alberta towns of Red Deer and Airdrie, strong Western Canadian hockey outposts.

As boys, Brandon Sutter of Red Deer and Zach Boychuk of Airdrie got to be friends and eventually played together on Canada's age-group and world junior championship teams. They got drafted in the first round by Carolina one year apart.

Now, they are together again after the Penguins traded for Sutter in June and plucked Boychuk from the Hurricanes Thursday on waivers.

"We've known each other forever. We're from almost the same town," Sutter said after Boychuk practiced with the Penguins for the first time Friday at Consol Energy Center.

Sutter, 23, plans to open his home to Boychuk until the 22-year-old gets settled in Pittsburgh. He'll show the newcomer around, help him out.

But not so much on the ice, where Sutter is fairly well entrenched as the third-line center.

Boychuk practiced at left wing on the second line with center Evgeni Malkin and right winger James Neal, and that on-ice initiation will continue this afternoon when the Penguins play the New Jersey Devils at Consol Energy Center.

"He's not a huge guy, but he's a guy that sticks his nose in there, is effective with his speed and does have some skill," coach Dan Bylsma said in confirming that Boychuk will make his Penguins debut as the latest to audition for a spot alongside Malkin and Neal.