What will it take the Canucks to extend Brock Boeser long-term?

Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
Stephan Roget
2 years ago
The calendar page has finally turned over to 2022, and the situation has rarely been more optimistic than it is right now for the Vancouver Canucks.
The team is rolling on the ice, the franchise has been given a fresh start off the ice, and the fans are as enthralled as they’ve ever been.
Best of all? There’s nothing coming up that’s worth dreading, either.
Offseasons had become a point of tension in Vancouver under the Jim Benning Regime, but those days are over — and the summer of 2022 promises to be a relatively peaceful one, anyway.
The Canucks really only have one roster-related issue to worry about over the next six months, and that’s the pending extension of one Brock Boeser.
Extending Boeser for the short-term would be a fairly easy, if expensive, feat — he’s owed a $7.5 million qualifying offer that he’ll gladly take if nothing better comes across the table.
But both player and team would probably prefer to ink something long-term, and the details of that potential contract are a little trickier to figure out.
Luckily for you, we’re on the case.

The body of work

 GamesGoalsAssistsPointsEven-Strength PointsPPGAvg. TOI5v5 Corsi5v5 xG%
Boeser’s body of work for the Canucks thus far makes a couple of things patently clear.
He is, without a doubt, a genuine top-six scoring winger.
In fact, Boeser’s PPG over the past three seasons, including this one, ranks 12th overall for right wingers. That more-or-less locks him in as a true first line talent, and a better-than-average one, at that.
Despite repeated criticism of Boeser as a “one-dimensional player,” neither his numbers nor the eye-test support that assertion. His 5v5 play has been steady for some time now, and he handles tougher deployment than the typical “sniper” with aplomb. Boeser has only rarely been in the negative in terms of possession, expected goals, or any other measure of on-ice control.
From HockeyViz.com
Boeser’s playmaking has also become underrated, as has his ability to elevate the game of his linemates.
In other words, Boeser may be an elite goal-scorer, but he’s much, much more than that, too. And he deserves to be paid like it.
His slow start to the 2021/22 season may end up hindering his ability to ask for the truly big bucks, and if so, that would be quite the boon for the Canucks. Everything else on Boeser’s resume says that this year’s early-season struggles are nothing more than a temporary blip in what has otherwise been a stellar career.

Boeser’s leverage

Both sides will enter negotiations hoping to apply their own leverage, and in this section we’ll take a look at what they’ll be bringing to the boardroom table.
Boeser’s leverage relies largely on that aforementioned qualifying offer. To retain Boeser’s RFA rights, the Canucks will need to make him an offseason QO of one year at $7.5 million — provided, of course, that they don’t extend him beforehand.
Boeser is free to take that QO and sign it. If he does, he’ll be in line for a similar QO in the summer of 2023, and if he signs that, then he’ll be an unrestricted free agent by 2024. That’s not ideal for anyone.
Boeser is also arbitration-eligible from here on out, granting him a little additional leverage if his camp feels they need it.
Boeser can also use his recent history as a form of leverage. He is on quite the heater right now, and the longer that continues, the more he can point to it as relevant to negotiations.
Skipping over that slump at the start of the season, we get to the 2021 campaign, perhaps the toughest in franchise history, and one in which Boeser put the team on his back. A near-PPG effort as the roster crumbled around him was Boeser’s most impressive performance yet, and it’s one that his agent will be highlighting as of means of conveying Boeser’s importance to the Canucks.

The Canucks’ leverage

Whereas Boeser and his camp will hope to avoid much discussion of his dreadful start to the 2021/22 season, Jim Rutherford and Co. will no doubt be using it as leverage of their own. Not to run down Boeser’s quality of play, necessarily, but to emphasize the general inconsistency that has plagued him throughout his career.
Even if Boeser continues to thrive under Bruce Boudreau, his final tally on this season will probably end up below his own standard. NHL contracts tend to have a strong recency bias — “what have you done for me lately” — and a dip in overall production is definitely going to hit Boeser in the pocketbook.
That inconsistency is, of course, tied to Boeser’s lengthy history of various injuries. The term “injury-prone” can be a problematic one in a sport where collisions are frequent and injuries are often random, but there’s no denying that Boeser hasn’t always been available when the Canucks need him. He’s already missed more than 50 games due to injury or illness since joining the organization, and that will be a factor in his contract valuation.
As skeezy as it may sound to put it this way, the Canucks also have significant sentimental leverage over Boeser. All indications are that Boeser wants to remain in Vancouver, where he’s built strong connections to his teammates. He also strikes most as a person who is big on loyalty, and the Canucks have treated him very well over the years. A high-character individual like Boeser may have more impetus to pay the Canucks back for that loyalty with a discount than the average negotiator.
Rutherford can also point to the Canucks being on the verge of competitiveness as a reason for Boeser to want to stick around. Who wants to live through a rebuild, only to bail when the going gets good? The appeal of continuing to play under Boudreau is probably a strong motivating factor, too.

Six contract comparables for #6

Modern-day NHL contract negotiations are increasingly dependent on comparables. To qualify as a Boeser comparable, we’re looking at players who have signed extensions in the past three years or so, and did so at an age within three years of Boeser’s own age. These players all had PPGs somewhere in the neighbourhood of Boeser’s current standard at the time they signed.
Kyle Connor
Age at time of signingPPG of three seasons priorPPG season priorTermCap HitCap %
22 (2019)0.720.80Seven years$7.14 million8.76%
Connor was cited as a comparable for Boeser the last time the Canucks were negotiating with him, but Connor ended up signing for seven years to Boeser’s three. Both have taken steps forward since then, but Connor’s current level of production isn’t relevant to analyzing his contract.
This deal was struck when Connor was coming off his sophomore season, and only bought a couple of UFA seasons, so its value may be a little lower than what Boeser might be looking for. Still, it’s probably the best ballpark available.
Anthony Mantha
Age at time of signingPPG of three seasons priorPPG season priorTermCap HitCap %
25 (2020)0.710.88Four years$5.7 million6.99%
Like Boeser, Mantha also experienced some inconsistency before signing this contract, though it also came hot on the heels of his best season yet. With that in mind, it’s hard not to see this contract as a bit of a bargain, though Mantha has returned to inconsistency since. This may not be a realistic comparable for Boeser’s contract, but it could be cited by the Canucks as a means of dropping the AAV.
Pavel Buchnevich
Age at time of signingPPG of three seasons priorPPG season priorTermCap HitCap %
26 (2021)0.710.89Four years$5.8 million7.12%
Buchnevich is a surprisingly strong comparable for Boeser. Though he doesn’t have quite the same track record, his numbers prior to signing this contract were probably better than what Boeser will end up with by the end of 2021/22.
Buchnevich’s contract came after a trade to the St. Louis Blues, which may have contributed to him getting a bit lower than expected. In any case, the contract has paid immediate dividends, with Buchnevich breaking out in a big way this season. Like Mantha, the AAV here is probably less than what Boeser will expect, but it’s a starting point.
Teuvo Teravainen
Age at time of signingPPG over three seasons priorPPG season priorTermCap HitCap %
24 (2019)0.740.93Five years$5.4 million6.79%
Teravainen may not get the same headlines as the superstars in Carolina, but maybe he should. He’s quietly become an incredibly consistent producer for the Hurricanes, and contributes more to their offence than most might expect.
When he signed his current deal, Teravainen was coming off a season quite similar to Boeser’s 2021 campaign. That considered, he didn’t get paid very much for it. Boeser’s salary will be higher than this, no doubt, but the structure of the contract could be similar.
William Nylander
Age at time of signingPPG of three seasons priorPPG season priorTermCap HitCap %
22 (2018)0.730.74Six years$6.962 million8.76%
Nylander’s terse negotiations feel like they were a million years ago, but they’re just over three years into the rear-view mirror. Like Connor, Nylander signed his deal as a 22-year-old, which meant the Leafs weren’t buying as many UFA years from him. Theoretically, this should have driven down his value a bit, but Nylander still managed to cash in big-time.
Since then, Nylander has earned his contract, but at the time it looked like an overpay based on his body of work. This could be one that Boeser’s camp focuses in on, because Boeser has a better track record now than Nylander did at the time of signing. A contract approaching this percentage of the cap could prove challenging for the Canucks to accommodate.
Ryan Nugent-Hopkins
Age at time of signingPPG of three seasons priorPPG season priorTermCap HitCap %
28 (2021)0.830.67Eight years$5.125 million6.29%
We’ll cop to it: this is the worst comparable on the list. Nugent-Hopkins was a lot older when he signed this than Boeser is now, and he had a much lengthier history with the Oilers. That being said, this could be a glimpse at what a true hometown discount looks like for Boeser. Edmonton rewarded Nugent-Hopkins’ loyalty with term, and RNH has responded in turn with a bounceback to PPG status. The salary won’t match, but Boeser could seek a similarly-structured eight-year commitment for a lesser AAV.

So, what’s it going to take?

Again, we’ll leave the short-term prognostications aside for now. If the Canucks want to hand Boeser another short-term contract, the bidding starts at $7.5 million. Anything less, and Boeser will just sign the QO.
But both Boeser and the Canucks will want to get him under contract for at least four years, if not more, and that might give them the chance to drop his AAV a little bit under that $7.5 million price tag.
In looking at the comparables, the range between Buchnevich and Connor seems like fair territory for Boeser, with Nylander representing the upper range. That puts Boeser in line for a cap hit that takes up between 7% and 8.75% of the Canucks’ total cap.
If the cap ceiling rises to $82.5 million for 2022/23, as is predicted, that would slot Boeser’s AAV in between $5.78 million and $7.22 million.
The exact value probably depends on the term. A longer-term commitment makes sense from Boeser’s perspective, given his injury history, and he’d probably be willing to take less salary in exchange for more years.
Either way, it seems likely that the Canucks will be able to keep Boeser around with a raise of about $1 million and change, which seems perfectly reasonable. Continuing to fit such a salary under the cap might be another challenge, but that’s a story for another article.

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