Though a ton of the focus in Vancouver this offseason has been on the somewhat odd additions they made in free agency, or the performance of top draft pick Quinn Hughes at the World Junior Summer Showcase, there is still plenty of work to be done to keep the organization on the tracks of their rebuild. One of those things is negotiating an extension with star forward Brock Boeser, who is already heading into the final year of his entry-level contract despite having just one full season under his belt in professional hockey.
Since Boeser was already 20 when he signed his first contract out of the University of North Dakota, he burned the first year of his ELC in just those nine games at the end of the 2016-17 season. He’s been eligible to sign an extension since July 1st, and according to Ben Kuzma of The Province the two sides had preliminary discussions last month. They also plan on talking again next week, though GM Jim Benning isn’t putting a deadline on anything:
We haven’t got down to talking term. We plan to circle back and I’m not sure where it’s going to go, but we want to see if we can get somewhere. There’s no time frame on it.
Brock is going to see the best matchup line and best defensive pair, but I don’t expect a drop-off. He has pushed himself hard to pick up where he left off and there are other contracts coming up in the league in the next six months that could drive up the price — I understand that part of it.
Benning is right about the fact that there are several potential extensions coming up around the league that could change the price tag for Boeser. Though he likely won’t quite match up with the mega contracts that Auston Matthews and Patrik Laine are headed for in their negotiations, there is a big group of other players that find themselves in a similar situation to Boeser after performing well early in their careers. Kyle Connor, Sebastian Aho, Matthew Tkachuk, Mikko Rantanen and Mitch Marner are all wingers who have found incredible success in their first few seasons, and are scheduled for restricted free agency in 2019.
All of them will be looking at other contracts signed by players like David Pastrnak, Nikolaj Ehlers and soon William Nylander as potential starting points but could eclipse the $6-7MM range that each of those players will fall into. Boeser could be the same, especially if he can prove he’s back to full health and can get back on a 40-goal pace to start the season.
There is little worry here that the two sides won’t be able to eventually come to some agreement, but the question is will the Canucks get any sort of discount by betting on Boeser before he’s shown his ability for a second season. With added pressure and tougher defensive matchups, there is always a real possibility that his numbers decline this season. Boeser did after all shoot 16.2% in 2017-18, though the eye test would lead you to believe that he’ll post above-average shooting percentages for his entire career. If that number drops significantly though, the Canucks might be able to parlay a down year into a better deal for themselves. The two sides are in a game of poker at the moment, wondering when to push all their chips to the middle. Whether that happens this summer or much further down the road still is yet to be seen.