The 2018-19 version of the Vancouver Canucks has had its share of storylines. Elias Pettersson has taken the league by storm as a rookie. The playoffs, days from the trade deadline, were well within reach. Jacob Markstrom may have finally come around as an NHL starter, and Bo Horvat continues his growth as an impact forward. Lost in the shuffle, however, has been the immensely successful sophomore season of Brock Boeser. Nominated for the Calder Trophy in 2018, there were, as with all rookies, questions about how he would perform in his second season. These questions were exacerbated by an injury that took training time away from Boeser in the summer. However, he has overcome these hurdles, and put together an understatedly excellent campaign this year.
Brock Boeser: Unsung Hero
In what was considered a resoundingly successful rookie campaign, Boeser put up an impressive 29 goals and 55 points in 62 games. He was named the Canucks Most Valuable Player, as well as their Most Exciting Player in addition to the aforementioned Calder Trophy nomination. He was the team’s leader in goals and points, and by all accounts was the motor of the Canucks for the year. However, he has not gotten nearly the recognition this season, despite the similarities of the two campaigns. There are some fair reasons for this: Elias Pettersson has soaked up most of the attention, and the goals he has scored haven’t been as highlight reel-made as perhaps thye were in his debut season.
On balance though, it’s hard to discredit what he’s done in 2018-19. He’s on pace to put up 25 goals and and 51 points through 62 games (the amount he played in his rookie season), a slight decline but hardly overly dramatic. This comes as well with the added challenge of the ‘sophomore slump’, as well as early-season struggles with injury.
It gets more impressive as one goes deeper. His CorsiFor% is 59%, up from an also-impressive 55.5% last year. His Fenwick rate, similarly, is up from 54.7% to 58.8%. Relative to his teammates, he stands at +15.2% and +14.7%, up roughly five percent in each statistical category from 2017-18. While he is receiving six percent more offensive zone starts, he is also playing tougher minutes, roughly four minutes more on average.
While Pettersson has been flashier, one should also not discount what Boeser has contributed to the Canucks offensively. He ranks third on the team in points, just five back of Bo Horvat with 13 fewer games played. He also ranks third goals, again behind Horvat (who holds a lead of two). Further, he ranks second to Pettersson in game winning goals with three.
As more young stars join the Canucks — Pettersson this year, and perhaps Quinn Hughes in just a few weeks time — it may become easy to forget about the 2015 23rd overall pick. This would be a mistake. While he may not be making the waves he did when he first broke in, he nonetheless plays a key role in the fate of the organization. Boeser has quietly has an excellent sophomore campaign, and it deserves to be recognized as such.