Why now is not the time for the Vancouver Canucks to move on from Brock Boeser
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
By Noah Strang1 year ago
Out of all the big decisions facing the Vancouver Canucks over the next few months, one of the biggest is deciding what to do with Brock Boeser. The 25-year-old winger has been a staple in the Canucks’ top-six ever since he burst onto the scene as a rookie in the 2017-18 season. Since then, there have been lots of ups and downs as Boeser runs hot and cold, never quite fulfilling some of the massive expectations created since his dynamic rookie season.
While he has dealt with injuries that have clearly had an effect on his play, Boeser has yet to match his goal total from his rookie season. This season, he’s on pace for a career-low in points and has taken a step back in nearly every major statistical category. It’s been a disappointing season for Boeser as everyone continues to wait on him to take that next step and turn into a legitimate top-tier sniper.
Boeser’s been especially disappointing at 5-on-5, scoring only seven goals so far this season. Young guns Nils Höglander and Vasily Podkolzin both have more 5-on-5 goals than Boeser despite playing far fewer minutes, and depth piece Juho Lammikko is tied with seven as well. This isn’t the type of production you expect from someone of Boeser’s calibre.
To make matters worse, Boeser is in line for a $7.5 million qualifying offer this offseason. That’s a big number for a player that ranks behind Travis Hamonic, Matthew Highmore, Noah Juulsen and more in 5-on-5 points per sixty minutes. Considering the Canucks are already in a tough cap situation, offloading Boeser to a team that has more cap flexibility is an option that has been thrown around a lot.
However, trading Boeser now would be a massive mistake. His value is relatively low and he’s worth more to the Canucks than he could fetch in a trade at the moment. While the qualifying offer is scary, there’s a way that the Canucks could get around it that would benefit both the team and Boeser.
Boeser’s ceiling is too high to give up on
While Boeser’s output has flatlined and he’s never improved on the 29 goals he scored in his rookie season, there’s still reason to believe that he could reach another level. He possesses an elite shot that is among the best in the league in terms of accuracy, power, and his ability to get it off. Unfortunately, he has struggled with injuries that have limited the velocity of his shot at times, yet he seems to be working past those problems.
“My shot is feeling really good. Obviously, there’s been issues with injuries in the past, but I’ve been feeling really good,” said Boeser in early 2021. “I’m feeling confident.”
One of the major issues with Boeser’s game has been his lack of footspeed which has resulted in difficulty in finding the time and space needed to unleash his shot. While that remains a limiting factor in his journey to being a true superstar, there’s no reason he can’t still be a 30 goal scorer. Vancouver hasn’t been an environment where players have been able to put up massive raw point totals in recent seasons and with time, there’s still an opportunity for Boeser to take another step.
There are better trade options on the roster
While trading Boeser and avoiding that $7.5 million qualifying offer would help the Canucks clear cap space while also hopefully recuperating some assets, there are better options available to the team. The obvious candidates are J.T. Miller and Conor Garland who could also be moved to alleviate some of the cap pressure on the organization.
Both Miller and Garland’s values are closer to their peaks than Boeser’s. Miller especially will likely never be worth more than he is over the next 12 months and trading a player of his calibre could bring back a bucketload of top-tier assets. While Garland might not fetch the same return, he has been a good 5-on-5 contributor and is signed to a reasonable contract with term. He could fetch some solid assets in a trade.
Boeser has shot just 5.88% this season at 5-on-5, a low number for any player but especially shocking considering the dangerous weapon we know he has. This is the 41% lower than any other 5-on-5 shooting percentage he’s had in his career and only the second time it’s been in single digits. Now is not the time to trade Brock Boeser when options like Garland or Miller exist.
The best-case scenario for the Canucks
The big issue facing the Canucks is the fact that Boeser has this $7.5 million qualifying offer. The Canucks would ideally want to get him for lower than that on a deal with term, but Boeser’s camp will likely be reluctant to drop too far. However, after a down season like this one, it’s possible that both sides could come to an agreement on a contract that offered Boeser longer term at a slightly lower AAV.
Offering five or six years to Boeser at an AAV of $6-6.5 million might be a deal that both sides could accept. While this would be a slight risk for the Canucks because of the winger’s struggles this season, it’s a risk worth taking. It’s very likely that Boeser’s shooting percentage rebounds next season and he finds his 5-on-5 scoring touch once again.
If you’re going to take a risk, make it be on the 25-year-old winger that has scored at a 0.37 goals-per-game rate throughout his NHL career. That’s a 30-goal pace over a full season and includes his disappointing year this season, as well as many games where he was clearly hampered by injuries.
Alternatively, Boeser’s camp may want a shorter-term deal that takes them to unrestricted free agency at its conclusion.
Regardless, the Canucks would be fools to trade the young sniper now while his value is seemingly low. The return that they’d get almost certainly wouldn’t match up to Boeser’s potential and there’s a solid chance they’d have to watch him develop into a ferocious goal scorer on another team.
What do you think the Canucks should do with Boeser? Would you trade him or try to keep him long-term? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.
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