A Case For Brock Boeser

By JD Lagrange – Living in British Columbia has its disadvantages when it comes to following the Montreal Canadiens. It’s impossible to get a job covering the team through any traditional media outlets as you don’t have access to the dressing room for interviews, for example. But with the internet and technology, we still have access to the same information just as easily as any fan out there living in La Belle Province, particularly when you also speak “la langue de Molière”.

But living in BC, aside from the unmeasurable amount of Crown Land for outdoor activities and its amazing mountains and views, has other advantage when it comes to hockey. For one, we get to watch the games at 4:00 PM our time instead of having to wait to 7:00 PM. We then have the freedom to watch games from the Western Conference at a “normal” time. This alone often gives us a better insight to the teams and players in the West.

Boeser seeking a trade

Last night, during the second intermission of the Oilers and Canadiens’ game, NHL Insider Elliotte Friedman informed hockey fans that the Vancouver Canucks have given permission to Brock Boeser and his agent to speak to other teams about the possibility of facilitating a trade. The Canucks’ right winger is not having a good season and he was going to be a healthy scratch last night against the Coyotes until Bruce Boudreau (possibly told by GM Patrik Allvin) changed his mind and inserted him into the line-up.

In 19 games so far this season, Boeser has four goals and 11 assists for 15 points. The points total is fine, but it seems like a pace for 17 goals is not enough for the Canucks… particularly not when you’re carrying a cap hit of $6.65 million for two more seasons after this one. Admittedly, that’s not enough to justify his salary and when you’re tight against the cap the way the Canucks are, people search for scapegoats and GMs, for solutions.

A tough time

Hockey fans, particularly those who aren’t following a team some 5,000 kilometers away from their home, are not always aware of the small details in a player’s life. I say small only because it’s often outside of hockey, but it can be major. Fans look at the stats’ sheet and immediately make a judgement on the said player(s).

For 12 years, Boeser’s father Duke had been battling Parkinson’s Disease. Brock was 13 when Duke was diagnosed. That was just the initial attack by a relentless wave of challenges that would include a brain injury suffered in a car accident, cancer, a heart attack and dementia. Duke Boeser’s battle for life ended at home in Burnsville, Minnesota, on May 27, 2022. He was 61 years old. Brock is 25, still far too young to be losing his father.

When he was 17, Boeser lost a close friend, Ty Alyea, in a car accident in Minnesota. Brock was away playing for the U.S. Under-18 team in Europe. Another close friend, Cole Borchardt, suffered permanent injuries in the accident.

“Brock has had some life scenarios where he had to be older than I wanted him to be. He had a maturity about him, anyway, but then had to endure some of those things at a pretty young age. When you have experiences like that, you can’t help but grow as you deal with them.” ~ Brock’s mother, Laurie Boeser

This, inevitably, has affected him and ultimately, his play on the ice. You see, we tend to forget that these players are also human beings. Fans, particularly on social media, like to come across as cold, ruthless people with little to no sympathy, even even less empathy, hiding under the pretext that the players are getting paid a lot of money to perform… no matter what. But those who have some living experience under their belts know that it’s not the right attitude, that there is more to hockey in life.

Canadiens’ possibility?

I have been given the opportunity, due to my location, to watch quite a bit of Boeser since he’s joined the Canucks. Of course, my colleagues Bob Trask and JAG could also tell you a lot about him as well, both living here in Beautiful BC.

But for those of you who don’t know him as well as a hockey player, Boeser is a sniper from the wing who has a great shot with a quick release and good puck skills. He knows how to find the dead spots in a defense and he can score from in close and from distance. He will get his nose dirty, especially on the power play where he gets a lot of his points.

Josh Anderson

The 6-foot 1-inch, 208 lbs right-hand shot winger was selected 23rd overall by the Canucks in 2015. He will only be turning 26 in February and has plenty of great hockey in him. I have been hoping for the Canadiens to trade for him for several years now and now, he seems to be available. But what to give?

As we know, the Canadiens are very deep on the wing and with left-handed defensemen. And let’s get one thing out of the way: Kent Hughes will not be trading a first round pick. If the Canucks insist on that, Montreal will be out of the picture in a hurry.

Some people on social media last night were bringing forward the name of Brendan Gallagher. Gally, although born in Edmonton, moved to Vancouver and played his junior hockey for the Giants in the WHL, where he was the team captain. Of course, cap-wise, it works. But if the Canucks aren’t happy with Boeser’s production for his salary, how do you think they will feel about an older Gallagher with more mileage and a similar cap hit? It’s a non-starter, in my humble opinion.

So look more towards Josh Anderson to tip the balance in the Canadiens’ favour. As opposed as I might be to trade Andy, getting Boeser, a more natural scorer, would help with the pain of losing a player that I really like. The prospect of seeing Boeser on the right of Sean Monahan, and the option of moving Dach back to the middle and the prospect of trying the Minnesota native with Caufield and Suzuki is also appealing.

Of course, you might have to add here or there on either sides, but I feel like the Canucks and Canadiens could be suitable trade partners, with Boeser and Anderson as centrepieces.

Of course, I fully expect Boeser’s agent to reach out to the Minnesota Wild, as he would likely welcome a trade to go back home. But that doesn’t mean that the Canucks will be able to accommodate him, particularly if the Wild lowballs them. Boeser has no trade protection on his current contract.

The Canadiens are playing in Vancouver on Monday…

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Second Line Centers

By Bob Trask – The calls for Sean Monahan to be traded for anything from a first round pick plus prospects to a second round pick or less refuse to die down. Many want general manager Kent Hughes to pull the trigger before a more complete analysis of the situation can be done.

Fans’ arguments are many. It’s a deep draft. Monahan is old (28 years old) and injury prone. The Canadiens aren’t close to being contenders yet. Make the trade while his value is high. And there are many others.

But let’s take a closer look at the situation.

Possible Replacements

It’s already been pointed out that late 1st round picks have a low probability of developing into a player of Monahan’s quality and even if they do, it takes four to five years before they are ready to contribute in a significant way. While Hughes wants to build a team that can sustain success over a long period of time, it’s doubtful he want to be in a constant state of waiting for draft choices to develop while the team struggles. Counting on a late first round pick to immediately take Monahan’s spot would be s step backward.

Sean Monahan

A look within the organization also reveals that there is no one close who would be able to replace what Monahan brings. With all due respect to Owen Beck, he needs a couple of years. Even if he makes the squad next year, it wouldn’t be as a 2nd line center. Riley Kidney is skilled but not the physical presence that Monahan brings and could use a couple of years in Laval – for physical development if nothing else. Oliver Kapanen is still plying his traded and developing in Europe. A pick like Adam Fantilli might be able to step in but the likelihood of the Habs choosing top 3 seems remote. Perhaps a trade for a highly rated prospect might help but it would be far from a sure thing.

And it’s more than the on-ice skills that must be considered. Monahan brings an element of leadership to the team. Removing that leaves a void.

Age Comparisons

The fear of many is that Monahan will be too old before the Habs are ready to compete. A look at some of the second line centers on top contenders may help to dismiss that argument. These are all players who are teams currently in a playoff spot, with the exception of Kadri who played for the Stanley Cup winner last year at the age of 31. At least two of them, Stamkos and Malkin, have suffered through serious injury. So maybe the age/injury argument is overdone.

  • Joe Pavelski – Dallas Stars +10 years
  • Evgeni Malkin – Pittsburgh Penguins +8 years
  • David Krejci – Boston Bruins +8 years
  • Jordan Staal – Carolina Hurricanes +6 years
  • Steven Stamkos – Tampa Bay Lightning +4 years
  • Nazem Kadri – Calgary Flames +4 years
  • John Tavares – Toronto Maple Leafs +4 years
  • Brock Nelson – NY Islanders +3 years

Based on this, Monahan has the potential to be a solid contributor when the Canadiens are ready to compete. If it takes them three more years to be competitive, Monahan will still be younger than than everyone on this list and exactly the same age as Brock Nelson is this year.

Team Structure

Every GM has his own vision of how a team is constructed but successful teams often have a blend of youth and experience. As this season unfolds, Hughes will undoubtedly be evaluating the talent on the team along with trying to determine the potential for success in the next couple of years. That evaluation combined with the quality of assets he may be offered in return for Sean Monahan will determine the course of action that he takes.

Nothing is a slam dunk at this point. In the meantime, Monahan’s value has continued to rise, whether it is on the ice or in the trade market.

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