When you read about Brock Boeser’s current contract situation, you’ve seen an almost endless number of people talk about how both the Vancouver Canucks and Boeser’s camp are waiting to see what deals other restricted free agents around the NHL agree to. The thing you haven’t seen much of, however, is who these players are and what deals they’ll likely be signed to, along with how said deals will affect negotiations between the Canucks and Boeser.
Boeser and his family are going through an incredibly difficult time at the moment with his father, Duke. Duke has been hit with bad news after bad news in terms of his health. Patrick Johnston of The Province wrote an article documenting all the hardships Boeser and his family have had to go through in recent years (from ‘Brock Boeser’s father battling cancer again,’ The Province – 07/30/19). Duke has gone through hell and back, and as most of you already know, is currently still in critical condition. At the time of this writing, the last update on Duke is that he is slowly but surely showing signs of recovery from the heart failure he suffered caused by his lung cancer.
Boeser’s Negotiations Thus Far
Here’s hoping Duke makes a speedy recovery. Canuck nation is praying and pulling for him. Get well soon, Duke. His father’s health and being with his family is obviously his number-one priority at the moment, but when Brock is ready to focus on hockey again, he will be met with further contract negotiations.
Thus far, the negotiations have not amounted to much, but both sides are confident that a deal will get done ahead of training camp. Remember, just two years ago, the Canucks and Bo Horvat were unable to strike a deal until Sept. 8, just a few weeks before training camp began.
Just like the two parties involved in the negotiations, fans should not be worried at all about the contract. Take a look at the other remaining big-name restricted free agents around the league; it is clear that players and their agents are waiting to see what happens with the other RFAs, namely Mitch Marner, before agreeing to a contract.
Other than Marner and Boeser, the prominent RFAs that remain unsigned are Patrik Laine, Mikko Rantanen, Brayden Point, Kyle Connor, and Matthew Tkachuk. While all of these players are almost certainly waiting to see what happens with Marner, they’re also waiting to see what the market is based on each other’s deals as well. The question is who of these RFAs is the best indicator for what a fair contract looks like for Boeser and the Canucks?
Unlike Boeser, Laine is coming off a down year, in which he picked up 30 goals and 20 assists, both of which are career lows for the Finnish sniper over the course of his three-season NHL career. There are very few people out there who don’t think Laine is more than capable of bouncing back and returning to his usual 40-goal form. Unlike Boeser, Laine has scored 40 goals before. Boeser just wrapped up his sophomore season, but played in just 69 games, unlike Laine, who scored 44 goals through 82 games in his second season in the NHL.
In the 2018-19 season, Laine scored 30 goals through 82 games, while Boeser potted 26 goals through 69 games. That means their goals per game (G/PG) is eerily similar. Boeser sits at .376, while Laine had a G/PG of .365. Even though Boeser’s was higher, this does not mean that Boeser is due for a bigger payday than Laine. Laine had a down season, while Boeser had a relatively successful one. There’s also one less season that Laine has over Boeser, and the fact that Laine has proven he’s capable of scoring 40-plus goals in the NHL.
While I fully believe that Boeser too is capable of reaching this feat, he has yet to prove it, which is why he’ll almost certainly be paid less than Laine is. As per The Province’s Ben Kuzma, Boeser and his camp are reportedly asking for $7 million, with a long term deal being what both sides most likely want to reach. Because of his injury that took him out for the final months of his rookie campaign and hindered him from playing to the best of his abilities last season, Boeser, now 100% healthy, has a serious chance to have a breakout season in 2019-20.
Speaking of breakout seasons, Kyle Connor, another Winnipeg Jets winger, set career highs in goals, assists, and points last season. Connor and Boeser were both selected in the 2015 NHL Entry Draft and are both products of the USHL. Connor was selected 17th overall while Boeser was selected six picks later at 23rd. Both should enjoy lengthy careers in the NHL, and are pretty close in terms of production at this stage of their careers. As a result, the contract that Connor signs will be an indicator to the Boeser camp what a fair deal for Brock is.
The only contract signed so far in terms of big-name RFA wingers that the Boeser camp can look at is San Jose Sharks forward Timo Meier, who wouldn’t you know, just had a breakout year, right before he needed a new contract. Meier scored 30 goals and more than doubled his assists from two seasons ago. Meier signed a four-year deal with a cap hit of $6 million per year. The question now has to be asked, is Boeser worth more than Meier? Looking at stats alone won’t paint the whole picture, because as mentioned earlier, Boeser has yet to play a full 82-game season, and a lot of the games he has played in he hasn’t always been 100% healthy. This next season is set to be huge for Boeser, to say the least.
The Canucks and Boeser are obviously still waiting to see what some of the other restricted free agents get, but to me, a deal with five or more years at a cap hit of $7 million seems like the sweet spot. As I wrote just a few weeks back, Boeser is the exact kind of person you want as a core leader of your young up and coming team, and the Canucks should want to keep him around for a long time. With all of this, let’s not forget what’s most important here, and that’s the health of Duke Boeser. Keep fighting, Duke, Canucks nation is thinking about you.