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Canucks Free Agent Roll Call: Brock Boeser … Keep Him or Not?

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Vancouver Canucks, Brock Boeser
Vancouver Canucks winger Brock Boeser on the road in Washington.

Canucks Roll Call is assessing every player who held a significant place in the fortunes of the 2021-22 Vancouver Canucks season. We’ll be looking at the highs and lows they experienced during the recent campaign, as well as what the future holds for them in Vancouver. We start with the club’s free agents and for this one we feature the most intriguing question: Brock Boeser

Position: Right wing

2021-22 totals (GP-G-A-P): 71-23-23-46, 20 PIM

Contract Status: 25-year-old restricted Free Agent (RFA) with arbitration rights coming off a three-year deal with an annual cap hit of $5.875-million. However, agent Ben Hankinson of Octagon structured the deal so that the final year featured a salary of $7.5-million, thus making that amount the number for the Vancouver Canucks RFA qualifying offer.

Options:

– The Canucks can easily come off that number by offering a long-term deal. Say, $6.75-million or $6.25-million over six years. They can negotiate a new deal at any time.

– The Canucks can also trade Boeser at any point. They can allow an interested team permission to speak to Hankinson about a long-term deal in advance of the trade. The new club would be under the same guidelines. If they didn’t negotiate a long-term deal, they’d be on the hook for the qualifying offer to keep his rights, and they’d have until 5 pm eastern time on July 11th to qualify him.

– If the Vancouver Canucks don’t qualify him by that deadline, he becomes an unrestricted free agent (UFA). That would be stupid.

– There is week-long window on July 2nd that allows either the team or the player to call for arbitration with the result, after a war of words and likely bad feelings, being a one or two year deal. This is unlikely. Very few go to arbitration. The move often leads to a negotiated deal prior to an actual hearing.

Keep him, sign him for five or six years, or move him? That’s the biggest question of the summer. JT Miller’s or Bo Horvat’s potential new contract doesn’t have this type of deadline, nor does a decision on moving either one of them.

Season Synopsis

HIghlights

Dude had the best Corsi number (team’s even strength shot differential for and against) of any forward on the team at a whopping 60% and was high in the expected goals for the team department. That may come as a surprise because Boeser’s not really noticeable until he’s noticeable, meaning he’s not hitting anyone, he’s not doing super-dangles, he just suddenly shows up somewhere in a face-off circle and rips home a slapper.

In terms of personal expected goals, Boeser tallied two less than the analytics thought he should. He missed the very start of the season with a lower-body injury, a few games around New Year’s during Covid protocols, and some games in April with an upper body injury.

As it turns out, he was also bothered the entire season by the fact that his father, whom he’s very, very close to, was ailing through a series of very serious health maladies that continue.

Boeser has reached 20-plus goals four times in his five full seasons in the NHL, peaking with 29 back in his rookie season, 2017-’18. There’s no reason to believe he can’t reach 30 with good health and stable line chemistry.

He twice had three point games, once in a crucial match at home against the Dallas Stars in April. It started a six-point stretch over three games.

He had twelve more takeaways on the season than he had giveaways. He actually won just under 51% of his draws when he was forced to take them.

Lowlights

Boeser’s longest pointless streak of the season, eight games, came in November under head coach Travis Green when he and the team weren’t fully engaged and matters were headed south. Under Bruce Boudreau, Boeser had a pointless streak max out at four games beginning at the end of March.

Just less than half his goals came on the power play, eleven, and the cold streak in that department didn’t help matters for the club during the stretch drive. This while his work ethic actually improved during the course of the season when he wasn’t affected by injuries.

Physically, he’s not going to piss anyone off with his 35 total hits. It’s not his job or demeanour and for some managers that can be a problem.

What the future holds

I won’t say my opinion of this player changed more than any other during the course of the season, but it’s close. For the better. The dad factor provides sympathy for me, as does suffering through the elongated pre-trade-deadline rumour mill.

The injuries are standard operating procedure for most in the NHL.

What it comes down to for the Vancouver Canucks brass is team identity and cost. He’s a popular player in the market, not that that ultimately matters in this business, who can snipe on a regular basis when he’s healthy and engaged. He wouldn’t be considered hard to play against but he does manage to pull off the possession numbers.

Whether he’s Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin’s cup-of-team remains to be seen. The biggest decision of the early off-season is also the toughest one.

VHN Managing Editor Rob Simpson has been covering the NHL for three decades on live TV, radio, and as a journalist. He worked his first ever game getting postgame sound as a teenager; it was Vancouver vs. Detroit.

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Fred Thompson

Have to keep Boeser and JT Miller heart ,soul and foundation to build a cup winner

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