Thursday’s 5-2 loss to the Vegas Golden Knights resulted in the Vancouver Canucks dropping out of a playoff spot. However, on a night where little went right, one of the few highlights was this goal by Brock Boeser:
While the goal ultimately meant nothing in terms of the result, it allowed Boeser to maintain his position as the team’s leading scorer this season, with 16 points. Further, with the Canucks nearly 25 percent of the way through their schedule, it seems like a good time to assess the 20-year-old’s impact.
The Canucks’ have been better than anticipated up to this point and Boeser is a big part of the reason why. And in truth, we shouldn’t really be surprised.
Contender for Rookie of the Year
Boeser has had little issue transitioning to the NHL game, thanks to excellent puck skills, superior passing and overall offensive talent. He showed glimpses of this last season, when he had five points — including four goals — in nine games.
This season, Boeser is looking even more confident, as he continues to adjust to the game in North America’s top league. And, in the process, he has become a genuine contender for Calder Trophy.
Entering Friday’s slate of games, the 2015 first-round draft pick is third among all rookies in points. Only Clayton Keller (18 points) and Mathew Barzal (17) have more.
However, Boeser has achieved his points total in just 16 appearances, whereas Keller and Barzal have played 21 and 18 contests respectively. In other words, the Canucks’ young star leads all rookies in average points per game.
No doubt there will be many Canucks’ fans out there who believe Boeser has little chance of winning the Calder Trophy, no matter how well he performs. The thinking is that playing out West will go against him, because of a perceived East Coast bias.
If the winger continues to play well, though, it will be tough for anyone to ignore him, no matter where they’re based. In this respect, more performances like the recent one against the Pittsburgh Penguins will help his case:
How can you not be impressed by someone getting the first hat-trick of their career, against the two-time defending Stanley Cup champions? Coming before a national TV audience only adds credence to the thinking that Boeser rises to the the occasion on the big stage, rather than wilt under the pressure.
One other positive to come out of the game, is how humble the 2015-16 NCHC Rookie of the Year comes across. Consider his comments to the media, including Joshua Clipperton of The Canadian Press, via CBC:
It’s obviously truly a special one, to score three goals in a game like that. But it’s about our team game. I thought our team got better as the game went on.
With a mindset like that, there should be little concern about success going to Boeser’s head. This only makes the young man even more special.
Will Boeser Win the Calder?
The Vancouver Canucks have only had one player win the award since they entered the league in 1970. That was Pavel Bure, who picked up the trophy during the 1991-92 season, when he totaled 60 points in 65 regular season games.
As noted by Carol Schram of Westender.com, the Canucks have also had two players finish second in the voting for the Calder Trophy. Current team president Trevor Linden missed out in 1988-89, while Mattias Ohlund was runner up in 1997-98.
We previously went on record as stating Boeser is unlikely to keep up his impressive start to the campaign. The length of the NHL season is expected to eventually take its toll, especially with him already having issues with stamina during the pre-season.
However, even if this doesn’t prove to be an issue, the odds are still against the Burnsville, Minnesota native, just because of the quality (and amount) of the contenders. Sure he’ll be in the mix, but ultimately, Vancouver Canucks fans shouldn’t expect to see his name alongside Bure in the Calder Trophy section of the team record books at the end of the season.