The NHL Trade Deadline is rapidly approaching, and while many dominoes still stand, some names are being brought up more than others. One of those names is Vancouver Canucks forward Brock Boeser, and it appears as if he might be on the move in the next month.
Boeser is a polarizing player, possessing a lot of talent but carrying a lot of questions with him. It’s rumored that at least six teams have shown interest, but nothing has materialized. There’s definitely a “buyer beware” tag attached to him, but there’s still the possibility he becomes a key contributor on a new team. There’s no doubt that the Winnipeg Jets could use his skill and scoring, but should they be interested in a player that carries his level of risk?
What to Expect From Boeser
After making his NHL debut in 2016-17, Boeser developed into a consistently solid contributor. His goal-scoring was a strength that led to him being selected 23rd overall in the 2015 Draft, and he’s been able to live up to that reputation in the NHL.
In his first five years in the NHL, Boeser recorded four 20-plus goal seasons while also recording 45 or more points in all five. He’s off to a slower start this season, partially due to a string of injuries and absences, but he’s still been fairly productive in the 42 games he’s appeared in.
In those 42 games, Boeser has recorded nine goals and 30 points. His goal-scoring has been limited this season, and it’s reflected in his shooting percentage (S%). To this point, the 2022-23 season is only the second time he’s been held under 10 percent shooting since entering the league. His 9.9 S% is a full three percentage points lower than his career average (12.9 percent), which suggests he still has something more to give.
Whether Boeser is scoring or not, he’s still a gifted player who knows how to find the soft spots in the offensive zone. The situation in Vancouver isn’t ideal right now, which suggests that a change of scenery could benefit his play.
The Risks of a Boeser Trade
Despite being a 25-year-old offensive contributor, Boeser comes with a fair amount of question marks. His injury history has sparked concern, and his current contract is forcing some interested teams to balk at the opportunity. His agent received permission to speak to other teams in December, but nothing has materialized.
“Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reported Saturday on Hockey Night in Canada that Boeser’s agent Ben Hankinson has been given permission to speak directly to teams about finding a possible trading partner. Hankinson declined to comment and Canucks president Jim Rutherford didn’t reply to a request for comment.”
from ‘Canucks: Brock Boeser’s agent given permission to seek a trade,’ The Province, 12/4/2022
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In the past year, Boeser has suffered both a hand and an arm injury that has forced him to miss time. Both injuries cast doubt on his offense, as his shooting will obviously be affected by any long-term complications of those injuries. For a prospective trade partner, it’s reasonable to be worried about the possibility of lingering effects and if there’s a chance of re-injury.
The injury concern also stretches into the contract concern, as Boeser is under contract for two more seasons at $6.65 million. This becomes a non-issue if he resumes production and stays healthy, but it’s difficult to view it that way for teams looking to improve at the deadline. If the Canucks are willing to negotiate money, only then will a trade become realistic.
The Rewards of a Boeser Trade
As difficult as it may be, when you set aside the risks in front of him, Boeser can still be a valuable player for teams looking for scoring. With how he plays, he should be able to find those opportunities he’s had his whole career if he winds up on a new team. Scoring goals in the NHL is one of the harder things to do, and he’s done it fairly consistently over his career.
Boeser is also going to add a level of power play depth, which is something a lot of teams, the Jets included, should be looking for. He currently plays the left point on the powerplay, which functions as both a distance shooting and set-up spot for him. Given how he uses space to create shots, it’d be wise to get him into a spot with more shooting opportunities.
His contract can be hard to look at, but his upside can make up for it if he finds his groove. Many teams would be willing to pay for a player who consistently scores 20 goals, and he has the ability to live up to that expectation when healthy. He’s also in the midst of a “down year” while he’s sitting at 30 points in 42 games. That seems like a very good floor for teams to expect from him, and his ceiling is even more enticing.
Should the Jets Enter the Boeser Sweepstakes?
Ultimately, the Jets should be looking at all avenues to increase their scoring depth. Boeser is a polarizing player, but he could be a legitimate difference-maker in the Jets’ top six and on their power play. With a projected $9.07 million in deadline cap space, taking on most of Boeser’s contract is quite doable. That being said, this deal will likely only happen if the Canucks are willing to retain at least $1 million of his contract.
Boeser has been on the market for quite a while now, and it appears that won’t be changing any time soon. If the Jets are looking for potential backups to their primary targets, he would be a sneaky candidate. He could still make it to his usual 20 goals this season, and a change of scenery could help him reach that mark. If he finds his groove away from the Canucks, scoring 11 more goals to reach 20 seems quite reasonable.
One of the biggest issues plaguing the Jets this season is secondary scoring, and a Boeser addition could help with that. They likely look elsewhere first, but they would be remiss to not check in with the Canucks to see if there’s a deal to be made. He’s no Timo Meier, but he is a four-time 20-goal scorer in desperate need of a change.
This feels like one of those situations where the Jets could take the risk and reap the rewards. That said, the Canucks need to work with teams to negotiate, because it seems unlikely Boeser is dealt without some retention or attaching another draft pick in a potential deal.
The Jets should be interested in Boeser for the right price. Overpaying for this sort of a risk would be unwise, but for a draft pick and some clever negotiation, perhaps something can work. Teams have to take these sorts of risks occasionally because if all goes to plan, this is the type of player you could get more out of.