Vancouver Canucks: Patience needed for Boeser’s next contract

VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28: Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice with the puck during their NHL game against the New York Rangers at Rogers Arena February 28, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n
VANCOUVER, BC - FEBRUARY 28: Brock Boeser #6 of the Vancouver Canucks skates up ice with the puck during their NHL game against the New York Rangers at Rogers Arena February 28, 2018 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Jeff Vinnick/NHLI via Getty Images)"n /

Coming off an incredible rookie season, Brock Boeser looks poised to cash in on his next contract. Perhaps the Canucks could benefit from signing him now, but I will show you why patience will be the key in negotiating a fair deal.

The Vancouver Canucks are in a very interesting situation. They have more cap space than they know what to do with and only a handful of restricted free agents to take care of. Given the financial flexibility they possess, you may believe that the opportunity to sign Brock Boeser is right now. Get him a long-term deal soon before he gets too expensive.

I can see where you are coming from. Boeser was the best player on the Canucks, the heart of the team’s offence and a great future star in the making. When we look at his teammate, Bo Horvat, the Canucks waited a little too long to start negotiating. Horvat played all three seasons of his ELC and after long negotiations over the summer, he was paid handsomely.

Ideally, the best time to negotiate with Horvat was after his second NHL season. Regardless of when these started, Horvat had zero leverage. No arbitration rights, no impending UFA status, nothing. Despite that, the Canucks bowed down and just gave Horvat’s agent what he wanted. As bad as Benning is with contracts, I’m sure he could have knocked that number well below $5 million per season if the team worked things out in 2016.

Despite that, you may think the same thing applies to Brock Boeser. However, it doesn’t. The two players had different progressions under different circumstances and I will show you why waiting with Boeser is not a bad thing. In fact, both sides can win with a little patience.

The major difference between Horvat and Boeser

Like Horvat, Boeser won’t have any leverage either. However, the biggest difference is still important to note. Boeser has one NHL season under his belt. It was terrific and is a great sign of things down the road. However, single season samples are misleading.

Before Horvat cashed in, he dealt with a rough second season. Even though he tried his best to avoid it, the sophomore slump hit. He still improved his points totals from 25 to 40, but Horvat couldn’t buy a goal in the first few months of that season.

This is why I think patience is the key. I can’t predict whether the sophomore slump will affect Boeser. Maybe it will, maybe it won’t. But, I can tell you that Boeser could be due for a slight regression. Few NHL players can maintain a shooting percentage of 20%, which is what Boeser had in the first half.

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Furthermore, Boeser looked like he hit a wall in the second half of the season. He only scored eight times in his last 26 games. Boeser was not used to playing so many games and the rest of the league caught on and limited Boeser’s ability to produce shot attempts. The tough checking won’t change next year.

His line was riding a sky-high PDO, meaning they were getting the bounces and saves when they needed them. Now, does this guarantee that his production takes a dip next year? No. However, I think there is still a chance that he doesn’t quite match his totals next year. If that happens, I wouldn’t call it a plateau. Just the nature of numbers in hockey.

Why patience is a win-win

By waiting, I see two scenarios play out. First, Boeser has an awesome season. No sophomore slump, scores 30-40 goals and cracks 70 points. He will be very expensive, but as long as the Canucks didn’t burn through their cap space in free agency, they should have more than enough room to pay Boeser. It does mean the first number of his contract could start with a seven, but that’s the price to pay for a star player. I’m also factoring for Benning’s poor negotiating skills.

Conversely, the second scenario involves Boeser having a season ranging from okay to decent. This means a slight dip in production to matching his rookie season totals. Boeser won’t be paid as much, but I have a good feeling the Canucks will opt for a longer term deal instead of a bridge. Those traditional bridge deals are disappearing with regards to star players, and general managers have to adjust for that.

Another good thing about being patient is avoiding ridiculous expectations. If Boeser becomes the highest paid player on the team now, fans, media and most of all, Boeser will put it on him to be the guy that carries the team.

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Granted, he already did that last season. But, that’s a lot of pressure on a young man to bear the burden for why the team succeeds or fails. I would rather see him keep playing how he did, without the distraction of the contract hanging over him. For now, it appears the Canucks will maintain the patient approach. They are going to need it, because there will be growing pains in the post-Sedin era.