Do the Vancouver Canucks have enough star power in their prospects to sufficiently replace the Sedin twins?
The Vancouver Canucks have accumulated quality prospects through the trade market and the draft. This is undoubtedly the best pool of prospects this team has had in recent memory and it will continue to get better next year as the Canucks will look to get yet another top pick in the 2018 Entry Draft.
But in today’s NHL in which skaters peak in their mid-20s and stars like Connor McDavid and Auston Matthews emerge in their teen years, top prospects don’t have until age 25, 26 to make their NHL debuts.
Do the Canucks have these elite prospects who can contribute before long?
The truth is that the rebuild cannot carry on forever. Looking back to how the Edmonton Oilers were before the arrival of McDavid, we know that time isn’t the omnipotent answer for the development of young NHL players.
For the first time since the beginning of the Sedin era in Vancouver, the Canucks may have elite prospects who could turn out to be game-changers for many years to come.
We present to you Week 4, the conclusion of The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking. As we are taking a look at the most complete and elite prospects, let’s move away from the conventional look at the strengths and weaknesses to a more holistic analysis of these prospects.
The Canuck Way 2017 Canucks Prospects Ranking
Our TCW staff ranked all Canucks prospects. The criteria: whatever each writer thinks is important. Current position in the organization, talent, potential, and chance of NHL success. All prospects under 24 years of age were considered as long as they did not spend significant time in the NHL.
At the top of our list, here is the Canucks’ most NHL-ready prospect, right winger Brock Boeser.
No.1 RW Brock Boeser
Weight: 191 lbs
DOB: 1997-02-25 (Age 21)
Drafted: 23rd Overall, 2015
2016-17 Stats: 32GP – 16G – 34PTS – 24PIM (NCAA, North Dakota)
At the top of our list of Canucks prospects is none other than Brock Boeser, the right-winger who played alongside Troy Stecher in the North Dakota program. Boeser saw NHL action at the tail end of last season, following the end of his college career. Both will now play for the Canucks organization as cornerstone pieces going forward.
Picked 22 selections after Connor McDavid in the late stages of the first round, will Boeser come to be regarded as a steal with the 23rd pick in 2015? Boeser’s game is primarily characterized by his love for scoring, especially with his deadly shot. He has the capacity to rip the puck home from anywhere once he gains the zone.
Both his slap shot and his wrist shot are pro-level. In fact, Boeser’s shot could already be the best one in Vancouver. His release is quick and powerful, resulting in accurate, heavy shots.
Boeser’s goals don’t just come from pretty snipes though, as he will often bull his way to the front of the net to shoot from in tight or to jam the puck in off of the rebounds. In other words, he isn’t afraid to get to the tough scoring areas.
The Burnsville, Minnesota native can thank his thick frame and solid lower body build for allowing him to play such a power game. He does not shy away from being britty. In the NCAA, Boeser’s balance and puck control under pressure were impressive.
Boeser may not be the most elite of playmakers but that does not mean that his offence is one-dimensional. His shot is complimented by a smart possession game that allows him to be strong along the boards despite being only 6-foot-1.
Boeser’s ability to individually protect the puck is the most impressive. He has the strength to initiate contact and stiff-arm the defender away, which is precisely what the most prolific scorers do in the NHL.
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Skating is likely the least NHL-ready part of Boeser’s game. Though his strides are very strong and his balance is superb, Boeser’s acceleration needs some more work. Even at top speed, Boeser doesn’t have trouble handling and shooting the puck, so adding explosiveness will go a long way for Boeser in the NHL.
Unlike many other prolific prospect scorers who lack the defensive acumen, Boeser has a strong two-way game. He works hard on the backcheck, pressures well on the forecheck, and is diligent in his in-zone defence. His solid frame is a plus in that he can engage the opposition in battles.
Boeser’s defensive game isn’t the only thing that is mature. Boeser’s character and leadership is certainly worthy of recognition. In addition to being a hockey player, Boeser lives as a son to a father who has Parkinson’s disease.
Boeser also had his share of life’s tumultuous tides as one of his close friends was lost in a fatal car accident. The character that had built up in him showed through and shined when he offered to go to the year-end dinner with a female student with Down syndrome at North Dakota.
As the top prospect in our Canucks prospects countdown, Boeser is undoubtedly the most NHL-ready prospect that Vancouver can look forward to. His offensive game has NHL upside and there are nearly no weaknesses in his game at this point.
With the added character and a physically mature body to go along with his mental maturity, Boeser has what it takes to be one of the future core leaders for Vancouver in the post-Sedin era.
In the nine games Boeser played in the NHL this past season, he showed his ability to compete in the NHL and be a smart scorer. He posted a +4.4 percent relative Corsi For and +5.1 percent relative Fenwick For, indicators that he is not at all a liability in the possession department.
Last year, Boeser played with lesser success before his wrist surgery, Post-surgery, he ended up coming to Vancouver to play nine games and score five goals. Hopefully the wrist doesn’t cause any more problem going forward.
– 2017 TheCanuckWay Prospects Ranking Top 20 –
#2 – C Elias Pettersson
#3 – D Olli Juolevi
#4 – G Thatcher Demko
#5 – LW Jonathan Dahlen
#6 – RW Nikolay Goldobin
#7 – RW Kole Lind
#8 – C Adam Gaudette
#9 – RW Jake Virtanen
#10 – LW Jonah Gadjovich
#11 – D Jordan Subban
#12 – F William Lockwood
#13 – G Michael DiPietro
#14 – D Guillaume Brisebois
#15 – D Evan McEneny
#16 – F Petrus Palmu
#17 – D Jack Rathbone
#18 – D Jalen Chatfield
#19 – F Cole Cassels
#20 – D Kristoffer Gunnarsson
The Honourable Mentions
There is nothing to dislike about Boeser’s potential as a future top-line power winger. He has the physical assets, he has the maturity and most importantly he knows how to be a smart scorer. Though he could stand to improve his skating’s explosiveness, his skating is otherwise solid and powerful.
Recall that Boeser and the Sedins worked well together, especially on the power play. Should Elias Pettersson and Jonathan Dahlen find that chemistry as a Swedish duo and join forces with Boeser to form the top line, Vancouver will have a legitimate offensive threat on any given night.