It was reported last week by Ben Kuzma of The Province that the Canucks management group and Brock Boeser’s representatives had some preliminary talks about a possible extension and planned to chat again in the near future. It’s obvious that the organization is excited about his potential and want to ensure that he is part of the team for a long time.
Though it may be more prudent to wait until after the 2018-19 season to lock up Boeser and there are few reasons behind that thought process.
As Ben pointed out in his piece, Boeser shot at a 16.2% clip throughout last season. Although he is a prolific and extremely talented shooter, it’s fair to believe that number will regress closer to the mean. The average shooting percentage is close to 11-12% and should be something that is expected for any player. There are players who will shoot higher than that, but that is generally in the 13-14% range and not almost 17%.
For comparison sake, if Boeser had shot 12%, he would’ve posted 21 goals instead of the 29 that he did score.
Honestly, Boeser probably has one of the best releases in the NHL and I would suspect that he will be above league average regularly. But expecting the rate as last year might be getting ahead of yourself.
The departure of the Sedin twins will also play a huge part in this. Those two were able to create plays on the power play that allowed Boeser to unleash his shot in great locations. It’s also important to think that with Henrik and Daniel gone, Boeser becomes a prime target for the opposition to shut down. The addition of Elias Pettersson may help to spread out the matchups but Boeser will be even more of a focus on a nightly basis.
By waiting to see what happens with this season, you are putting pressure on Boeser to take that next step forward. All of these players are ultra-competitive and use something like to motivate themselves. If Boeser uses that motivation to keep doing what he was doing – then you pay him. But there is little harm in waiting to see if he can do it again.
As pointed out by Graphic Comments last season, Boeser will end his entry-level contract with no arbitration rights and will be unable to receive an offer sheet.
This is because he appeared in that handful of games to close out the 2016-17 season and did not accumulate enough games played to be eligible for either. That means that the organization holds all the leverage heading into next summer. Boeser can’t use either avenue as a pressure point in contract talks. It may not seem important but the Canucks have shown a desire to avoid the arbitration process where possible as evidenced by their decision to not qualify Derrick Pouliot and then sign him a few days later.
Although it rarely happens, offer sheets are something that needs to be in consideration but isn’t something to worry about next summer with Boeser. The same applied to Johnny Gaudreau when his entry-level contract concluded. The Flames were able to get him to sign a six-year deal for $6.75M per season after a nearly point-per-game pace in 2015-16.
The argument against this is – “you don’t want to play hardball with your star!”
That is absolutely true but this is a business.
In this aspect, it’s a business of efficiencies that you hope will lead a greater sum. If you can save $500,000 on the Boeser contract, that allows you to allocate the resources to another part of the roster. If you are continually spending a little too much here and a little too much there, you put yourself behind the eight ball.
The Canucks did well with the Bo Horvat contract and there appear to be no ‘hard feelings’ there. I would suspect a similar outcome if it came to it with Boeser.
Before the last point, let’s be clear here – I enjoy watching Brock Boeser play hockey and I think that he will be a very good player for the organization for a very long time.
With that out of the way.
Brock Boeser has played 71 NHL games and had his season cut short by injury. That isn’t equal to an entire season and should be something that is kept in mind here.
If the Canucks were to commit 8 years and somewhere around $8.0M per season to a player with less than a season of experience, there is quite a bit of inherent risk involved. It may work out fine in the long run but there is a chance it doesn’t. Whereas if you wait until the end of next season, we are talking about a player with around 150 games of NHL action. It would allow you to see what he can do on the powerplay without two future Hall of Famers and he has handled the adversity of being one of THE guys on an NHL team.
This isn’t to say that his experience is detractor and more of an indicator of the risk involved in committing to these players so early. It’s clear that players are coming into the NHL in a more ready status than in previous years, which allows them to hit the ground running but there is always that risk.
Despite the criticism for the contracts handed out this summer, the Canucks are in a fairly good situation in terms of the salary cap for the next few years. It means that even if the Canucks sign Boeser to a long-term deal in the coming months, it’s not an issue.
But the organization does need to look ahead to three or four or five years down the road and think about how they will be able to support and add to the core of prospects that they currently have. You need to commit to your stars and keep them around as long as possible but if you can smartly save money on every deal, it keeps the opportunity to add available.
Ultimately, this isn’t about causing a rift between the organization and their potential star and more about doing what is best for the team going forward. If Boeser busts down the doors this upcoming season, you happily sign the deal and move on.
The organization did well with Horvat deal, so it will be really interesting to see how the Boeser contract negotiations shake out. It’s clear that a little patience with Horvat paid off and it’s fair to think the same process with Boeser will work out in the long run.