During the Monday night game against the New York Islanders, All-Star rookie Brock Boeser threw a hit that landed him nothing but a season-ending injury. With Cal Clutterbuck coming down the boards at centre ice, Boeser went to lay a hit; an admirable, but an ill-advised endeavour as it sent Boeser soaring as if he was a tin can tossed at a freight train. Brock bounced off of Clutterbuck and right into the open Canucks bench. Clutterbuck is a 216 lbs NHL veteran and known tough-guy around the league, whereas Boeser is a sniper with only 29 hits on the year. It might be advisable moving forward to stick with collecting Genos Brock, but your efforts were noted.
BOESER IS DOWN. I REPEAT. BOESER IS DOWN. pic.twitter.com/BfToG3rJjL
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) March 6, 2018
Brock was slowly helped off of the ice and did not return. Instead of the bench, he went to the hospital. On Saturday morning, Vancouver was given some bittersweet news as Brock is expected to make a full recovery, but not before season’s end. The star of the Canucks franchise was diagnosed with a soft-tissue injury and a small non-structural, non-displaced fracture in the lower back. The good news is he is expected to make a full recovery in about 4-6 weeks, and will have the entire summer to rest up.
Boeser has the opportunity to rest other injuries he has been nursing now that he is forced to end the season early. On December 17th, he took a shot to the foot that had him crawling to the bench, and on February 9th took a game off with an injury to his hand that likely has not completely healed yet. Brock, heal those hands, they are the most valuable asset the team has. After the weight of carrying the team all year, his back finally gave way due to the unfortunately timed hit on a line change. By doing nothing other than bracing for a hit, Clutterbuck shook up the remainder of the year.
Mathew Barzal Just Ran Away with the Calder
Mathew Barzal has arguably edged out Boeser for the claim to rookie of the year in the past weeks. Barzal has 18 goals and 51 assists for an incredible 69 points in his first year, while Boeser has only totaled 55 points. Boeser undeniably cooled off in the latter half of this season, but he definitely still stood a chance.
Need I remind you of his All-Star weekend? It was a weekend to remember for the (at the time) 20 year-old superstar Brock Boeser. The Brock-star started the weekend by beating the league’s top shooters, including Stamkos and Crosby, in the accuracy shooting competition. He hit the 5 targets in only 11.626 seconds, beating Brian Boyle by about a half-second. Boeser then put up 2 goals and 1 assist, on the title-winning Pacific Division All-Star team. To top it all off, he was named NHL All-Star MVP. He walked away from that weekend with a puppy, a huge payday, a new car and the attention of the league.
— NHL (@NHL) January 29, 2018
Barzal has more talent to rack up points at his disposal than Boeser does. Barzal is on the second line with Jordan Eberle and Anthony Beauvillier, part of a much deeper and skilled team than is available to Boeser. While opposing teams are putting all of their attention on the first line with known threats John Tavares, Anders Lee, and Josh Bailey, Barzal gets to go out against the opposition’s B-Team, which is helpful when collecting points.
Boeser is on a much shallower team’s first line with Bo Horvat, having only 36 points, who has been injured for a large part of this season. While the argument can be made that Barzal has it easy and should be getting the that points he is, Boeser is out making things happen and scoring goals largely on his own. That argument no longer needs to be had.
For better or worse, Barzal now has the undivided attention of the league. With Charlie McAvoy of the Boston Bruins also recently injured, his competition for the Calder is now out of the picture. However, McAvoy may be back, if only in the postseason.
The Vancouver Canucks
You would think this would be a fatal blow to the Vancouver Canucks, but their season was dead in the water months ago. Vancouver has 59 points on the season, placing second-last in the conference, above only Arizona. Boeser is credited for about 16% of the team’s goals and was involved in 34% of the team’s totals.
Vancouver is out of the last wildcard spot by 18 points in the west. Brock being out isn’t exactly going to wreck their chances at squeaking into the playoffs this year. This could be good however, giving the MVP time to properly nurse his wounds and set his sights on his sophomore year. Next year he is expected to sign a pretty hefty contract. It’s best he takes all the time he needs and doesn’t rush to get back out there.
Worst case scenario for the Canucks is the losing gets cranked to an 11 and their chances at a high pick only increases. If the hockey gods are fair, maybe they get compensation for past lottery luck and the franchise gets the #1 pick for Rasmus Dahlin.
The Vancouver Fans
The only thing more dismantled than Brock right now is the Canuck fan base. In a year that had little hope, media and managment turmoil, and no playoffs to look forward to, the one light they had has been put out. Though that may be a little dramatic, it holds some truth. Brock has been a glimpse of what the team might look like in the coming years. On a line with Bo Horvat, the pair has looked dangerous, especially with the late edition of Brendan Leipsic.
In the prospect pool is some serious talent that could make you take another look the Vancouver Canucks. Thatcher Demko is poised to make starting goaltender in the next 2 years, and should get a chance or two in net later this year. Elias Pettersson just passed Peter Forsberg in points for a player under 20 in the SHL. He now holds the number 2 spot with 50 points, and did it in only 40 games. Adam Gaudette is currently leading the NCAA with 29 Goals and 27 assists in 34 games, and has also been praised on his defensive play. You could see Gaudette in a blue sweater this year depending on how his playoff run goes with the Northeastern Huskies.
Other notable players coming down the pipe are Jonathan Dahlen, Olli Juolevi, Kole Lind, and Jonah Gadjovich. The list goes on, giving Canucks fans a lot to look forward to. Unfortunately, they will have to be patient in what might be a bleak final stretch this year.