The 2016-17 season had its unique set of challenges set for Brock Boeser, but he met each with aplomb and finished strong with an entry-level contract and a highly successful nine-game stint with the Vancouver Canucks.
Canucks select Brock Boeser with 23rd overall pick http://t.co/m649jaBJHh
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) June 27, 2015
A lingering wrist-injury plagued Boeser to start the season and eventually forced him to the operating table for midseason surgery. That same operation cost Boeser a return to the World Junior Hockey Championships that winter. By the time Boeser joined the Canucks, his wrist was still taped reminiscent to that of a prized-boxer before each match.
That didn’t stop the 20-year-old sniper from looking the part in his cup of coffee at the NHL level. In nine games, Boeser scored four goals for a team that, well, couldn’t score. The sample is admittedly small, but Boeser kept his head above water defensively at even strength, lending credence to his reputation as a strong two-way player, too.
Really, the Canucks couldn’t have asked for more from Boeser in just his second season in their system. He overcame adversity, signed a professional contract and offered the fans a glimmer, if brief, of something to look forward to for years to come.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) March 15, 2017
We’ve changed the qualifications up just a little bit this year. Being under the age of 25 is still mandatory (as of the coming September 15th), but instead of Calder Trophy rules, we’re just requiring players to have played less than 25 games in the NHL (essentially ignoring the Calder Trophy’s rule about playing more than six games in multiple seasons).
Graduates from this time last year include Brendan Gaunce, Troy Stecher, and Nikita Tryamkin, while Anton Rodin is simply too old now, and Jake Virtanen is not being considered solely as a result of his games played.
It’s become increasingly apparent with each passing season why the Canucks were so enamoured with Boeser at the 2015 NHL Entry Draft. His hard shot and intelligence in the offensive zone make him an offensive threat every time he touches the puck, and he’s as good a person as you’ll find in all the game.
There was a time when Boeser was considered by some to be an “iffy” selection with the 23rd overall pick. Two seasons later, he looks the part of a legitimate top ten talent. Chalk this up as a win for the Canucks.
I can’t offer a tonne of new information on Boeser at this stage. He’s built on all the foundations of his game to become a complete offensive player, improving on the skills that made him a first-round pick.
By that same token, some of the flaws, or weaknesses, in Boeser’s game are still apparent. Skating isn’t a strength of his and something he’ll need to show some improvement in that aspect of his game to be a consistently dynamic scorer at the NHL level. He has a hard, accurate wrist shot and he’s not shy about using letting it loose. If he can bring that shot at speed, it won’t even be fair.
— TSN Radio Vancouver (@TSN1040) September 8, 2017
Because of the lingering wrist injury that kept him from the World Juniors, Boeser’s production was severely hampered with the Fighting Hawks this season. His point per game rate dropped from the 1.42 of his freshman season to just 1.06 as a sophomore. As a result, his likelihood of NHL success drops significantly in the lens of pGPS when compared to last season.
Only about a third of the players Boeser compares to based on stature and production in the NCAA last season went on to develop into full-time NHL players, and they carry an Exp. Points of 45.7 per 82 game season.
Regardless of Boeser’s suddenly human showing by pGPS, I think he’s about as sure a bet as you’ll find for a player to develop into a full-time NHL contributor. And I think he’ll be a damn good one at that if his first nine games are any indication.
The question is more of a when rather than an if. The Canucks have added more forwards than they lost this offseason, and almost all of them are expected to play a scoring role. The numbers game is working against Boeser in a big way in training camp. For Boeser to make the Canucks to start next season, he’ll have to earn it. Even that might not be enough.
— Province Sports (@provincesports) September 8, 2017
I wouldn’t be surprised, though, if Boeser forces the Canucks hand. He’s just that good.