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The Canucks just made a worthwhile gamble on Brock Boeser to bounce back

Not many NHL forwards coming off of 46-point seasons ink deals north of $6 million per season.

Tampa Bay Lightning v Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser, the second longest-tenured Canuck on the team, is now locked up for another three seasons.
Getty Images

In the NHL, you’ll be hard-pressed to find forwards signing contracts north of $6 million per season after a 46-point campaign.

In this case however, it’s an intelligent gamble by general manager Patrik Allvin and the Vancouver Canucks.

On Friday, someone forgot to tell Allvin that it was a national holiday in Canada. He made a flurry of moves, but most notably, he re-signed RFA Brock Boeser to a three-year deal worth $6.65 million per season.

The deal helps the Canucks avoid that daunting one-year, $7.5 million qualifying offer that Boeser seemed destined to sign, much like Patrik Laine did last summer.

Despite his disappointing season, fans should be thrilled with Boeser’s new contract.

Why betting on a Boeser bounce-back is prudent

The Canucks most talented young forwards up front, Boeser and Elias Pettersson, both endured dreadful starts in 2021-22.

In Boeser’s case, he suffered a foot injury early in the season, which seemed to set him back over the first couple of months. He then initially rebounded under new head coach Bruce Boudreau before tailing off in the second half.

His season was also interrupted by a longer-than-expected COVID layoff. And, of course, we learned that Boeser was dealing with his late father’s ailing health situation throughout the season.

(Mostly) Everyone is talented at the NHL level, meaning players have to be at their best mentally in order to succeed.

Evidently, Boeser wasn’t able to play with a clear mind last season.

Even though Boeser didn’t produce to his usual standard, there’s evidence that his lack of production was largely due to rotten puck luck, rather than a lack of effort.

At even-strength, Boeser’s on-ice shooting percentage of 6.27% ranked 372nd among 455 regular NHL forwards.

He’s basically in the same company as a bunch of bottom-six, replacement-level players.

Nothing really changed in terms of his underlying profile aside from a slight dip in high-danger scoring chances. Mostly, it was just bad puck luck.

With that in mind, it’s pretty clear that the smart thing for Allvin to do was bet on Boeser’s full body of NHL work.

Thankfully, that’s exactly what he did.

Here’s a look at Boeser’s even-strength points per 60 over the last five seasons, courtesy of Natural Stat Trick.

  • 2017-18: 2.09 (62 games played)
  • 2018-19: 1.92 (69 nice games played)
  • 2019-20: 2.13 (57 games played)
  • 2020-21: 2.07 (56 games played)
  • 2021-22: 1.17 (71 games played)

For four seasons prior to 2021-22, Boeser posted even-strength points at a bonafide first-line rate (anything above 1.9 points per 60).

Last season, his 1.17 points were a high-end fourth-line rate...

You could say that Boeser is in decline (although you’d deserve a virtual smack for thinking such thoughts), but his overall body of work shows that he’s primed for a bounce-back in 2022-23 and beyond.

Like any gamble, there are no guarantees. There are some red flags about Boeser’s overall performance and if he’ll be able to live up to his newest contract.

You can see in that graph from JFresh that Boeser’s underlying metrics at even-strength aren’t stellar, both on offence and defence.

However, JFresh uses a three-year weighted average, which punishes Boeser for an underwhelming 2021-22 despite solid production in years prior.

Boeser is not going to win a Selke, but he’s smart enough defensively not to get burned when he's on his game. As you can see from JFresh’s graph (and, well, if you just watch the Canucks) Boeser also goes up against top competition on a regular basis.

At 25 years old, Boeser is just entering his prime. While he’s yet to truly dominate over a full 82-games, there’s a good chance he finally achieves that at some point over the duration of this contract.