With training camp opening today fans in Victoria are going to have to see the Vancouver Canucks without Brock Boeser. While he may sign in the next 24 hours, by all accounts that possibility is a remote one.
Brock Boeser Needs a New Deal
If No Deal Is Reached
Talks have been cordial, but according to Rick Dhaliwal, the two sides are still far apart on both long and short-term deals. From Tuesday:
The #Canucks cap issues are causing problems, the Boeser camp knows they can not get long term deal, they are willing to do a short term deal (even 1-2 years) but the gap remains even on that. Things can change quick but it does not look good right now.
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) September 10, 2019
And this from earlier today:
Benning : We have talked with Brock's agent about a long term deal and short term deal. We are looking for common ground. #Canucks
— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) September 12, 2019
Boeser is currently in North Dakota skating with his old alma mater. If he should stay there through not only training camp but season’s open, what are the Canucks’ options?
Pluses and Minuses
With an excess of forwards signed to NHL contracts, there are lots of possibilities even without Boeser’s absence. In fact, Antoine Roussel moving onto the Injured Reserve List is an essential part of the Canucks cap plan. Without that move at the start of the year, signing Boeser would break their cap limit. Fortunately, the Canuck’s new signees upfront can both skate either side.
Goldobin Moves Up
Freshly signed Nikolay Goldobin might be starting on the top line. More likely, though, is that new arrival Micheal Ferland takes the left side with Elias Pettersson and Boeser. With Boeser absent, Ferland can skate to the right of Pettersson, allowing Goldobin a shot on his strong side. Goldobin started last season with Pettersson and had his best stretch of point production in his NHL career. He had difficulty maintaining that pace, but the combination holds promise.
However, as Pettersson’s numbers declined, so did Goldobin’s. He has yet to show that he can drive play, and needs a finisher to play his best. He’ll be playing on eggshells as well, getting a very short leash from coach Green.
The New Arrivals
Ferland was signed along with J.T. Miller to add a net-front presence and ‘heavier’ play to the top two lines. Both have enough scoring ability to warrant top-six roles, and both could end up flanking the Canucks’ star centre. This would make room for skilled winger Sven Baertschi to play beside Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson. The latter two should at least start the season together based on their strong finish last year.
The downside is, moving Ferland and Miller takes what they were brought in for and puts in a single place. Horvat was the Canucks’ most dangerous player in front of the net and the opposition played him accordingly. He and Pearson worked well together, but they could use another someone working the corners. Miller could also be used on the team’s third line, adding deeper scoring punch.
An Old Face
Fan and critic flashpoint Loui Eriksson starts with Pettersson and Ferland. This isn’t as shocking as it looks. Eriksson managed a dozen points in his first 22 games last year, often skating with Pettersson. The thinking at the time was to give the rookie a seasoned veteran to ease him into the NHL.
Now it could be the young star giving a declining vet a boost. Eriksson doesn’t need to be in the bottom-six or stuck in a defensive role anymore. As difficult as it may be to believe, he does his best work in front of the opposing net. Eriksson is actually quite good at tip-ins and ‘garbage goals’ but his role over the past two years has given him little opportunity to score them.
If moving him to the top line works, then there’s the added bonus of getting some scoring from their six-million-dollar man. This could benefit the team in numerous ways, including increasing his value for a future trade. Or he may even come closer to earning the value of his contract. Better late than never?
The experiment might not work. He couldn’t rekindle World Championship memories with Daniel Sedin and Henrik Sedin, and that’s why he was signed in the first place. Asking him to do so with Pettersson is blind optimism. He’ll be very driven to prove himself after three years of disappointment, but there are also three years of disappointment.
Ideally, we won’t see the Vancouver Canucks without Brock Boeser at any point this season. But if worst comes to worst, the team will have to find a way to fill that void. Options are there, though they are far from ideal.
The Vancouver Canucks without Brock Boeser is like having a 50th birthday cake missing one of its brightest candles.