The Vancouver Canucks must like the Toronto Maple Leafs and their bottom-six forwards. In the last two weeks, they have claimed two of them off waivers in Jimmy Vesey and Travis Boyd. Vesey has already played four games, while Boyd continues to quarantine in Vancouver as per COVID-19 requirements. In 20 games this season he has three goals and eight points.
In the past, Boyd has proven himself to be a great energy player on both the Maple Leafs and Washington Capitals‘ fourth lines. In fact, his most recent linemate Jason Spezza praised his hockey sense and forechecking ability in a recent interview, so he should fit in nicely with the Canucks system. With the team struggling with injuries to regulars, Jay Beagle, Elias Pettersson, Tanner Pearson, and Brandon Sutter, he should be able to provide more speed and tenacity in the bottom-six, as well as another option for the second-unit power play.
It’s hard to say how much of an impact Boyd will have on the Canucks’ uphill climb to the playoffs, but the one thing he will do is add skill to a lineup that is severely lacking it right now. In the last two games, they have scored a grand total of one goal and it came from rookie Nils Hoglander. He probably won’t be the saviour they need, but he will at least help the cause when he finally gets into the lineup. So as we eagerly await his Canucks debut, here are five things about his life, both on and off the ice.
1. Boyd Played in the USHL & USDP with JT Miller
Before Boyd spent four seasons at the University of Minnesota, he was playing alongside current Canucks star J.T. Miller in the USHL and USDP. In fact, they were both selected in the same draft, with Miller going 15th overall to the New York Rangers and Boyd to the Capitals 162 picks later. The duo played two seasons together, so they are probably pretty familiar with each other.
Who knows, we might get to see Boyd reunited with Miller on a line with former Maple Leafs’ linemate Jimmy Vesey. With all the injuries ravaging the Canucks right now I’m sure head coach Travis Green won’t hesitate to try it at some point. He has already come out and expressed his approval for the acquisition, so expect Boyd to get a heavy dose of the top-six, especially if Pettersson isn’t back after their week off.
2. Boyd Was the Youngest Player in the 2011 Draft
Boyd was drafted 177th overall by the Capitals in the 2011 NHL Draft at the tender age of 17. By the end of it all, he was the youngest player selected, born right before the cutoff date of Sept 15.
Though don’t let his age fool you, he still performed at a high level with the USNTDP Juniors and US National Team posting a combined 18 goals and 56 points in 84 games. That’s pretty impressive, considering he was playing against a lot of players that were older than him.
3. Boyd is a Published Writer…Sort Of
While Boyd was in the American Hockey League (AHL) with the Hershey Bears, he was contacted by former pro hockey player Ryan Minkoff to write the forward of his book Thin Ice, which detailed his winding journey from U.S. hockey to a club in Finland. He basically wanted Boyd to recount the experience from his summer hockey days where he played on a team with Minkoff. Even though it was just a little blurb, Boyd was proud of his contribution to a published work.
I jokingly say I’m a published writer now. I have a copy of the book at home, I like to bust it out and show people, even though it’s not much. I took a prerequisite writing course in high school and university, but you’d definitely put me in the category of ‘just trying to get through.’Travis Boyd (from ‘The Book on Maple Leafs forward Travis Boyd’, Toronto Sun, 2/2/21)
4. Boyd Won a Stanley Cup with Beagle & Holtby in 2018
With the addition of Boyd, the Canucks now have three members of the Capitals team that won the Stanley Cup in 2018. Boyd only played one game during their championship run, but that was enough to earn himself a Stanley Cup ring and his name etched onto the storied trophy. The 24-year-old played 12:12 and won 55.6 of his faceoffs against the Pittsburgh Penguins in his only game of the 2018 Playoffs. Boyd also played eight games in the regular season, where he picked up his first NHL assist on a highlight-reel pass to Alexander Ovechkin, who returned the favour a few months later with a beauty pass of his own on Boyd’s first NHL goal.
So basically, he can say that his first two major points in the NHL involved one of the greatest goal scorers of all-time. Not many players can put that on their resume.
5. Boyd’s First NHL Goal Was Assisted by the Great 8
Even though Boyd has spent most of his NHL life on the fourth line surrounded by grinders and energy players, he was fortunate enough to play at least one shift with none other than the Great 8, Alex Ovechkin. In fact, his first NHL goal was assisted by the Russian superstar on a two-on-one. The pass was a masterpiece rivaling something in the Louvre, so all he had to do was deposit it into a fairly wide-open net. That’s how perfect it was. Except Boyd still had to finish the play, and he did that in spades putting it past Columbus Blue Jackets goaltender Joonas Korpisalo.
Boyd got rewarded with the customary puck and a cake from his daughter, Hayden when he got home from Columbus. Except he had to wait for it to be decorated before he could see it.
She [Hayden] had to do all the decorating and put all the writing on there…She went into one of the bedrooms and told me I couldn’t come in for five minutes, and then we sat down and ate some.
It was super thoughtful, and it’s a nice way to celebrate that accomplishment with them…Maybe I need to start having them make more deals where if I score I get some sort of baked goodie.Travis Boyd on what he had waiting at home for him after his first NHL goal
Maybe Hayden will make another cake when he scores his first goal with the Canucks? If she’s been baking cakes with every goal he has scored, I’m sure she’s more than perfected her technique.
Boyd Brings More Collegiate Flavour to the Canucks
The Canucks have quite the NCAA presence on their roster right now. So much so that they could ice two lines, a defence pairing, and a starting goaltender.
Canucks All-NCAA Lineup
|Jimmy Vesey (Harvard University)||Adam Gaudette (North Eastern)||Brock Boeser (Univ. of North Dakota)|
|Tyler Motte (Univ. of Michigan)||Jay Beagle (Univ. of Alaska-Anchorage)||Travis Boyd (Univ. of Minnesota)|
|Marc Michaelis (Minnesota State Univ.)|
With Jack Rathbone (Harvard Univ.), Will Lockwood (Univ. of Michigan), Josh Teves (Princeton Univ.), and Jake Kielly (Clarkson Univ.) playing in the AHL with the Utica Comets, the NCAA makes up a large part of the Canucks current roster and professional pipeline.
They aren’t all stars (except for Boeser, Hughes, Demko, and eventually Rathbone), but they have made it to the NHL and that’s a major coup for one of the draft’s biggest pipelines. Here’s to hoping Boyd finds magic in Vancouver, just like Motte did when he arrived from the Blue Jackets in a seemingly underwhelming trade for Thomas Vanek.
Matthew Zator is the assistant managing editor at THW and a writer who lives and breathes Vancouver Canucks hockey, the NHL Draft, and prospects in general. He loves talking about young players and their potential. Matthew is a must-read for Canucks fans and fans of the NHL Draft and its prospects. For interview requests or content information, you can follow Matthew through his social media accounts which are listed under his photo at the conclusion of articles like this one about Tyler Motte.