NHL executives will tell you that Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser’s name has been “out there” since the off-season, but the trade talk has heated up in recent days. Might that knowledge be contributing to his recent run of lackadaisical play, a stretch that includes the last six games without a point, a cumulative minus-4 for an NHL team allegedly playing well five-on-five, and a total of fifteen shots? The Vancouver Canucks forward has seen his time reduced, he played 16:20 against the Chicago Blackhawks on Sunday, with one shot-on-goal out of the four he attempted, one hit, and two blocked shots.
That was a festival compared to Friday night against the Winnipeg Jets: 17:24 in ice time with nary a statistic.
Canucks General Manager Jim Benning suggested last week during his media availability that he would explore all options to get his team out of its funk, including trades. Apparently Boeser is at the top of that list according to multiple NHL management sources.
One player representative has indicated that Elias Pettersson wouldn’t be happy if Boeser were dealt. Oh my, the plot at the Canucks country club thickens.
The difficulty is the money being shelled out at the moment for Boeser’s non-production. He’s in the final year of a three-year deal that’s paying him $7.5-million in actual salary with a cap hit of $5.875-million. An RFA at season’s end, he’ll require a qualifying offer that begins with his salary at the end of the contract. (In the new CBA rules, modified since he signed his deal, the required offer would be less) Apparently the Canucks don’t want to keep that responsibility, and it’s not necessarily about points.
Boeser has been a popular figure here in Vancouver, as has his hair. Maybe he shouldn’t have trimmed it. He’s coming off a 49-point-in-56-game-season which isn’t too shabby. His production the three previous seasons came in at a similar ratio, give or take a smidge, but there are other qualities besides goals and assists for a winning hockey club, that’s what makes the sport so special. You can’t quantify it.
Chemistry, commitment and leadership are three biggees to say the least. Not that Boeser is expected to be the catalyst behind lighting a fire in the Canucks dressing room, but where is that leadership coming from exactly? Maybe the club would like to find a spark, preferably in the form of a veteran defenceman or a right-shot centreman.
For GM Benning, there’s the little matter of finding a dance partner. Apparently it’s not been easy. Not impossible, like trying to unload Travis Hamonic before the season, but difficult. There’s interest in Boeser, but at what cost? These days the cap hits almost have to match, and finding a glut of D-men in the watered down NHL is no simple task.
Public relations is another drawback here. Moving a “key” figure always comes with blow-back. But then again that’s the least of the worries for this general manager; still being here to actually trade the player would be his number one concern. Apparently there’s no guarantee of that either.