Canucks Experiencing Life Without Boeser Over Final Stretch

While it’s not a foregone conclusion, the Vancouver Canucks look like they will be finishing the season without forward Brock Boeser. With his contract coming to an end, and the rumblings of his name being out there over the trade deadline and potentially into the offseason, there is a possibility he isn’t a Canuck for the 2022-23 season. With just nine games remaining in the regular season, they are getting a chance to experience life without him on their roster.

The Canucks have gone 3-0-1 over their last four contests, including taking three of four points against the Vegas Golden Knights, who are just four points ahead of them in the standings. They’re hanging around in the playoff race, just six points back of the final wild card position, and they’ve been doing so without the services of Boeser, who was injured back on April 3. This now gives them a chance to see what their future lines could look like, who could step up to replace him, while also giving a bit of clarity if they choose not to re-sign and bring back the Minnesota native.

What the Canucks’ Lines Look Like Without Boeser

Obviously, it’s a tough blow losing a top-six forward regardless of the circumstances, whether it’s to injury, trade, or free agency. However, in this case, the Canucks can use this opportunity to see what their lines could look like without Boeser on the roster.

The first lineup is from the Canucks’ latest contest against the San Jose Sharks. One constant that is shown throughout is the one-two combination of Elias Pettersson and J.T. Miller. Conor Garland is occupying the so-called position of Boeser on the top line. Captain Bo Horvat anchors the second with Vasily Podkolzin and Alex Chiasson, while the third line shows Jason Dickinson with William Lockwood on the wings and Juho Lammikko down the middle. While Chiasson filled in admirably on the second line against the Sharks, it had a different look earlier in the week.

The second lineup from earlier in the week against the Vegas Golden Knights is a better indication of what things could look like. As mentioned earlier, the Pettersson-Miller combination stays intact, but there was a new winger on the left side, with Tanner Pearson slotting in on the top-line. This moved Garland down to the second line with Horvat and Dickinson and created a much more balanced third line with Podkolzin, Lammikko and Chiasson.

Also missing from the lineup was sophomore Nils Hoglander, who could easily slot into the top-nine, but as we’ve seen, there are a few options for head coach Bruce Boudreau to work with.

Players That Could Potentially Take Boeser’s Spot

The toughest part in losing a player, let alone a top-six forward, is going out and finding a replacement for them. This isn’t an assumption that Boeser will depart at the end of the season, but in the case that he is in fact wearing a different jersey for the 2022-23 season, let’s see who could replace him in the Canucks lineup.

Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

If we look at the unrestricted free agent (UFA), class, it’s safe to assume that if the Canucks were to spend roughly $7 million or even more, Boeser would be the guy they’d sign. So players like Filip Forsberg wouldn’t be in play here, but there are other potential suitors. If they want to go the veteran route, Claude Giroux (34), becomes a UFA after the season, and if there’s a short-term deal there, he could be a good fit. He has 53 points in 67 games this season and can play all three forward positions. Some other veteran players include David Perron (34), Phil Kessel (34), and Ondrej Palat (31). On the younger side, guys like André Burakovsky (27), Max Domi (27), and Rickard Rackell (29) could be potential fits as well.

Related: 5 Canucks Who Could Achieve Career Milestones By 2021-22 Season’s End

Then, there are the options from within the organization. Garland has four more years left on a five-year contract he signed prior to this season, with an average annual value (AAV) of $4.9 million. He currently has 15 goals and 40 points on the year. Hoglander is another player that could get an opportunity with a couple of seasons under his belt, and Podkolzen has looked better and better as the year has gone on, chipping in with 19 points of his own.

This Stretch Will Show Whether Canucks Need Boeser Back

Now, this won’t be the end-all determination, but it gives the Canucks an idea of what life could be like without the services of Boeser. He missed a little bit of time earlier in the season from Dec 16 to Jan. 11. While they played just three games during that stretch, they went 2-0-1. With him being sidelined for a second time, they are 3-0, rattling off wins against the Arizona Coyotes, Golden Knights and Sharks. It’s a very small sample size at two different points of the season, but they have found ways to win without the 25-year-old.

Boeser was a first-round draft pick of Vancouver (23rd overall) in 2015 and has spent his entire six-year career there so far. He has had three 20-plus goal seasons, accumulating 248 points across 314 games, and has been a major part of this Canucks core. Even though they are getting to see what it would be like without him, the best-case scenario for both sides is to agree to an extension and keep him a part of the core for the foreseeable future.

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