The NHL regular season is almost a quarter of the way through, and to say that it’s been disappointing for the Vancouver Canucks would be an huge understatement. With the team showing signs of growth during their 2019 Playoff run in the bubble, many expected that to be a building block for things to come in the future. But even after significant changes in the offseason, the team is still struggling for consistency so far this year, and among the many players needing to step up, Vancouver needs more from Brock Boeser amid their frustrating season.
Now, it’s not fair to put all the blame on one player, but Boeser’s struggles definitely play their part in the Canucks 2021-22 campaign so far. Whether it’s the offensive struggles for him, the trade rumours swirling around a multitude of players, or the turnaround time Vancouver needs to crawl back into playoff contention, Boeser needs to step up and do his part before big changes started coming.
Offensive Struggles in The Early Goings
Outside of two or three players, the Canucks have really struggled offensively in the early goings of this season. J.T. Miller, Quinn Hughes and Conor Garland have been doing their part to keep the team afloat. They rank first, second and third on the team in scoring with 19, 15 and 14 points, respectively, but they need more from some of their other top-six players, specifically Boeser.
He’s proven over the course of his young career that the offensive upside and talent is there. He has posted point totals of 55 and 56 between 2017-2019, and has topped the 20-goal mark on three separate occasions. But this season has gotten off to a tougher start, scoring just four goals and eight points across 18 games this season. Over an 82-game pace, that’s just 36 points and 18 goals, with the latter being a career low if he continues at this pace.
What’s even more confusing is the amount of talent on the team that Boeser gets to play with. Whether it’s centres Elias Pettersson or Bo Horvat, producing wingers like Miller, Garland, or even some of the young guns in Nils Hoglander or Vasily Podkolzin, Boeser hasn’t found the right combination that’s clicked so far. He is currently on a line with Miller and Hoglander, but that could change as early as Sunday night’s game against the Boston Bruins.
Trade Rumours Swirling Around the Organization
Over the last week or so, trade rumours have been circulating around the team, honing in on a couple of key players. Miller has been one of those players, and while there definitely is a market and an opportunity for a sizeable return, he currently leads the team in both goals and points this season, with another year left on his contract with an average annual value (AAV) of $5.25 million.
Boeser’s name has also come up a few times over the last week, most recently before a 4-1 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. He spoke with Thomas Drance of The Athletic on if he had heard anything about it, saying, “I had some people bring it to my attention yesterday a bit. I was confused. I think it’s just people looking for an answer out in the social media world with the team struggling, especially now. That’s part of it.” While all of this is swirling around, Boeser told Drance he doesn’t see himself going anywhere this season. “I personally don’t think I’m going to get traded.”
At just 24 years of age, Boeser is in the final year of a three-year bridge contract he signed at $17.625 million, which has an AAV of $5.875 million.
Turnaround Time To Get Back on Track
While there is still a a significant amount of turnaround time this season to get back on track for Vancouver, they are almost a quarter of the way through and are in the midst of the wort slump of the year so far. The Canucks sit in second-last in the Western Conference overall at 6-13-2, and are near the bottom of league in every major category. They are 28th in the league with 2.29 goals per game (GPG), 26th in goals against giving up 3.29 goals-against average (GAA), their power play sits at 25th overall, scoring on just 15.5 percent of their chances, and their penalty kill sits dead last, only killing off 63.6 percent of their penalties.
December is right around the corner, while the Olympic break is shortly after. If things don’t get significantly better by then, it’ll be up to general manager Jim Benning to step in and shake things up.
I’m a London, Ontario based broadcaster and sports writer for the Vancouver Canucks. I’ve done work in the past reporting on the NHL, NBA and MLB. I’ve also covered the OHL including the Owen Sound Attack and am currently involved with the London Knights.