After a sophomore season with the Vancouver Canucks that saw him solidify his position as the team’s top sniper, we ask whether Brock Boeser could take the next step and reach the 40-goal mark next season.
The future of the Vancouver Canucks rests upon the shoulders of four young men: centers Elias Pettersson and Bo Horvat, defenceman Quinn Hughes, and star winger Brock Boeser. But after posting 55 goals in 131 games over the last two seasons, can we expect Boeser to improve next season and reach 40 goals?
Only 13 players reached that mark in the NHL this season, with Boeser part of the majority who couldn’t reach 40 goals. The company he has there is incredible: the likes of Auston Matthews, Johnny Gaudreau, Sidney Crosby, Alex Barkov, Mark Stone and Patrik Laine couldn’t get there. The 2017-18 season saw just eight players hit 40 goals, and just three in 2016-17.
With league scoring on the up, and the Canucks seeing a full season with the addition of Hughes, could we see Boeser take the next step and elevate his game to elite status?
40 goals is quite a stretch
Boeser has transformed the Canucks’ offense since he made his NHL debut against the Minnesota Wild way back in March 2017. After scoring on his debut against his home state team, just days after ending his NCAA career and on the same day he signed professional terms, he finished the 2016-17 season strongly to post four goals and an assist in nine games. A star was born.
His rookie NHL season saw Boeser nominated for the Calder Trophy, where he was beaten to the award by the New York Islanders’ rookie sensation Mathew Barzal.
Had Boeser stayed healthy all season, there’s a good chance that vote would have been a 50/50 call — but owing to Boeser’s scary injury suffered against the Islanders on March 5, Barzal continued his torrid scoring run to leave Boeser in his wake.
Boeser ended his rookie season with 29 goals, 26 assists and 55 points, and had the honor of playing alongside Daniel and Henrik Sedin as they retired, leaving a huge hole in the team’s offense behind them.
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Canucks fans were excited by the addition of Pettersson, but were also hopeful of seeing Boeser crack 30 goals and make up for at least some of the lost scoring from the franchise’s top two all-time scorers.
Sadly, that didn’t happen; Boeser missed 13 games, struggled with his fitness to begin the season, and had a couple of cold streaks along the way.
His season ended strongly, however: 13 points in his last 16 games, including a nine-game point streak that saw him surpass his career high for points and end the season with a highly respectable 26 goals, 30 goals and 56 points.
Had Boeser been able to play the full 82 games, he was on course for 30 goals. That’s some way off 40. He improved his even strength goal total from 19 to 20, but scored four less goals with the man advantage. There were concerns early in the season that his back injury had impacted on his game, but come the end of the season those concerns were a distant memory.
If Boeser is to elevate his game to 40 goals, he’s going to need to play the full 82. Or very close to it at least. He’s going to need Quinn Hughes on the top power play unit, he’s going to need to play alongside Pettersson, and he’s also going to need to improve his shooting percentage.
Let’s not forget, the last Canuck to score 30 goals was Daniel Sedin — in 2014-15. Before that, it was Daniel again in 2011-12. The 2010/11 season, which ended with the team’s Stanley Cup Final defeat to the Boston Bruins, saw both Daniel and Ryan Kesler pot 41 goals. Only nine players in the Canucks’ long history have ever reached 40 goals, with only three of them (Pavel Bure, Markus Naslund and Tony Tanti) doing so more than once.
It all seems like quite a tall order.