Vancouver fans can breathe a sigh of relief; Brock Boeser is back in the fold. The dynamic right winger has signed a new three-year deal with the team worth an average annual value of $5.9 million per season, though the structure of the contract is intriguing.
In the first two years of the contract, most of the money is in signing bonuses instead of base salary – technically, Boeser’s 2019-20 stipend is only $700,000, but he also gets a signing bonus of $3.3 million. There’s another $3 million bonus for 2020-21 to go with a $3.1 million base salary, followed by the all-important final year of the pact, where all the money – $7.5 million – is in base salary. This means Boeser will be eligible for a higher qualifying offer from the Canucks when it is once again time to get negotiating. It’s a nice bit of security worked out by Boeser’s camp, but if he can hit new levels of offense in the coming years, his next contract will be a long-term affair with much bigger numbers behind it anyway.
Through two full NHL seasons, Boeser has shown a ton of goal-scoring potential. He flirted with 30 goals in both campaigns and easily would have broken that mark had he not sustained a back injury as a rookie and a groin problem as a sophomore. Boeser believes the groin injury stemmed from the back problem.
“Even mentally it was hard to come back from the back injury,” Boeser told me recently. “But I’ve really grown and learned how to take care of my body now.”
With Elias Pettersson ascending as Vancouver’s top center, Bo Horvat bringing a sturdy two-way game and Quinn Hughes bringing a dynamic element to the blueline, the new-look Canucks lineup is developing into something special. Boeser can be the triggerman of the group and he is already a fan favorite in Vancouver.
And while GM Jim Benning has taken his lashings from pundits and Vancouver fans for his free agent signings, it’s worth noting that the Boeser bridge deal sets the table up nicely for the future.
Boeser will still be a restricted free agent when this new contract expires, but the Canucks will hypothetically have a lot more cap space to work with next time. Loui Eriksson, he of the much-maligned $6 million cap hit, will finally be a UFA in the summer of 2022, if the Canucks can’t dish the Swedish veteran off to another NHL franchise before that. Antoine Roussel and Jay Beagle, both of whom make $3 million, will also be able to walk free that summer.
Now, Pettersson and Hughes will both need new contracts in the summer of 2021 and neither of those will come cheaply, unless Hughes does a bridge deal like Boeser did. But it’s near-impossible to think of Pettersson settling for anything less than a blockbuster second contract if his next two seasons are anything like his tremendous rookie campaign with the Canucks.
And, as we have mentioned many times in recent days, there is also the backdrop of a new American TV contract to consider in the coming years, which will most likely lift the salary cap up by the time Boeser needs his next deal.
While Vancouver is still very much a franchise in transition, it’s hard not to get excited about the young talent that is about to fully take over. Boeser is a crucial member of that core and now he’s back under contract, ready to go for what is hopefully a healthy 82-game schedule.