Lesser For Boeser: Why Canucks Won’t Get Good Return In Trade

Brock Boeser and his agent are knocking on doors around the NHL in the hopes that a couple of teams answer and show interest in the forward ahead of this season’s NHL Trade Deadline. The Vancouver Canucks and Boeser are clearly not on the same page when it comes to his status with the team and it seems like rumors of the organization potentially dismantling things means Boeser would be among the first to be sent packing.

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The question is, can the Canucks get any sort of decent return for the forward? He’s got skill, but he’s been inconsistent and his contract doesn’t lend itself to being one that is easy to move. Despite the fact that speculation already suggests there is interest from other clubs, how much interest and what these teams are willing to part with is an entirely different story.

The NHL Trade Market Is Dead Quiet

As per Elliotte Friedman in his recent 32 Thoughts column, “Quote of the week: “We’d all like to make a (bleeping) trade,” one GM said. “But there’s no room to do it.” In other words, far too many teams are stuck with salary cap issues, and adding a player like Boeser — who makes $6.65 million over the next two seasons and change — isn’t feasible. While he’s got the potential to play up to the contract he signed, it’s not a given and teams just can’t afford to take expensive chances when it means making sacrifices in other areas. His two-way game is a question mark and teams need a sure thing these days.

Brock Boeser Vancouver Canucks
Brock Boeser, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The only way the Canucks find a taker if they are simply offloading salary is by shipping Boeser off to a team that has cap room. Those teams include the Arizona Coyotes, Buffalo Sabres, Anaheim Ducks, and maybe the Chicago Blackhawks or Detroit Red Wings. Only the Sabres currently see themselves as a team that might want to add players that can help them immediately as the others are either staying financially flexible or rebuilding.

Boeser lacks trade protection and probably wouldn’t be opposed to most deals, but his agent has to find a taker.

What About a One-for-One Deal?

There is always the potential of a trade that would see salary change hands. Friedman suggested that there might be a fit between Washington and Vancouver where Anthony Mantha goes back to the Canucks in the deal. The issue with this, is that if Vancouver is tearing things down, why add Mantha? He’s got one more season left on his deal after this and then he’s a pending UFA. The Canucks will want prospects and picks in return, taking only as much cap back as they have to.

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Could there be a fit in Minnesota where GM Bill Guerin has said he is looking to acquire a top-six forward? Possibly. After all, Boeser is from that area. But, what do the Wild give up in return? What about in Calgary, where rumors of Milan Lucic to Vancouver have popped up? That seems unlikely, hints Dhaliwal.

Canucks Have Little Leverage

Thomas Drance and Dhaliwal of The Athletic write that Boeser’s being on the trade block isn’t new. Teams have had some time to show interest and the Canucks have had the desire to make a move for a while. They write, “If there’s a Boeser trade to be found, there’s an understanding internally that the return will be relatively pedestrian.”

They add:

Considering the way the trade market is trending for expensive wingers, Boeser is a distressed asset, particularly at $6.6 million per season through 2025. … So the returns might look unbalanced in the extreme, particularly if the return includes an expiring contract.

source – ‘What we’re hearing about Brock Boeser on the trade block, Bo Horvat and more’ – Thomas Drance, Rick Dhaliwal – The Athletic – 12/04/2022

Remember too, what happened with Boeser when the player was nearly scratched is front-page news that all opposing GMs are now keenly aware of. If anyone didn’t know there was a disconnect between the team and the player, they certainly do now. Whenever the leverage moves away from the team like it has the Canucks, interest in a player only means so much. Teams know they can wait for the best deal and leave it up to the Canucks to see if they eventually fold on their ask.

To that end, things aren’t already off to a great start when it comes to the Canucks being ready to play ball. Rick Dhaliwal reports that the Canucks would take a contract back, but not add a sweetener. That’s going to remove a few teams from the running because getting two assets in one trade is a lot more enticing than getting one.