Much has been made about a potential impending decision around whether to keep Brock Boeser or Tyler Toffoli as the right wing position looks to be an area of strength for the Vancouver Canucks. However, the reason that this is a difficult discussion to have is because Boeser and Toffoli bring very different things to the table.
Cap space and impending free agency for Toffoli aside, we need to understand why you can not compare he and Brock Boeser to each other.
Boeser, concluding his third NHL season, came out to a torrent start in his rookie campaign that sparked the imaginations of fans for what he could potentially one day become. None of them were wrong to do so given Boeser’s level of play that year but expectations may have been set unfairly high. With a shooting percentage that blew competition (especially Matt Murray) away at a clip of 15.38%, it wasn’t realistic to believe that would be sustainable.
However, seeing that shot constantly on highlight reels every other night made it easy to believe. Since that 2017/18 season, his otherworldly shooting percentage has returned to earth as he currently has a 9.90% rate through this paused season.
That being said, Boeser has rounded out his game to be a more proficient offensive and defensive force. Not only does his 10.13% expected goals for percentage reflect that he was unlucky this season, but he had more assists in fewer games this season than the ones prior. Defensively, he has been much more responsible than he is often credited for and has only improved on that side of the puck. After a rookie campaign where he had an expected goals against of 35.03, he has dwindled that down to a meager 26.97 during this season, affecting the overall team to a beat of 3 (WAR) wins above replacement.
Brock Boeser is a young player that has battled injuries through the early stages of his career but there should be no doubting the promise and potential still to be reached by him in what should be the mere beginnings of a lengthy Canucks tenure.
Playing on a wing with captain Bo Horvat is a perfect spot for him to be playing despite his first line level production due to his defensive strengths and ability to not just possess an amazing shot but also to make high level plays with the puck. This could allow Horvat to spend less time working out of the defensive zone and more time caging opponent’s top lines in their own zone while having the offensive weapons available that Boeser carries with him.
Below is a player card created by @JFresh hockey on Patreon showcasing Boeser’s well-rounded strengths offensively while also being underrated defensively.
Besides, Toffoli brings a very different game and one that is more complementary to that of Elias Pettersson.
Toffoli is less of an offensive driver than Boeser is but on a line with Pettersson and J.T. Miller, he doesn’t have to drive play himself but rather get to the spots to finish. It is easy to get excited about the electrifying production that we saw from him as soon as he began on that line with 6 goals and 4 assists in 10 games played.
Toffoli is a rebound factory and business is good. Last season alone, he generated 30 rebounds for his linemates in LA. On a line with an elite talent like Pettersson that can give the puck to you in just the right spot and a net front presence like Miller that has so many goals scored off of him or tipped in, rebounds are bound to be extra juicy.
Attached is Toffoli’s player card showing how much more effective Toffoli is offensively and that he is much more suited playing Robin to someone else’s Batman.
He isn’t on the same level as Boeser overall but is still a very serviceable role player that can produce in bunches, especially when surrounded by high-level talent. Spreading out the offence in a way that best compliments each other is exactly what the Canucks should be looking to deploy. Loading up a top line may be tempting but giving the keys to Boeser to drive his own line may result in his confidence rising and a return to some gaudy shooting percentages.
And who doesn’t want to see more opportunities for him to load up that shot while Pettersson can be still be the shooting option on the top line.
Either way, these are two very different players that can not be fairly compared and the best part is that we shouldn’t have to compare them because they are both Canucks, which hopefully will be the case for awhile yet. So long as the cap allows.
Thanks to JFreshhockey (patreon.com/jfreshhockey) for the player cards depicted in the article. Stats outlined are found at www.naturalstattrick.com