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…

More reading…

Monahan Making A Case For Himself

By JD Lagrange – As the Canadiens are starting their annual Western Canada road trip, their first stop is in Calgary tonight. Historically, there have been at least as many Habs’ fans as there are fans from the local teams when Montreal travels out west. Tonight will be a special game for two players: Tyler Toffoli will be facing his former team for the second time since he was traded prior to trade deadline last season. Also, this will be the first time that Sean Monahan faces the team he spent his first nine season with in the NHL.

“I spent almost half my life there. It’s going to be weird, but I’m excited to get back there,” said Monahan.

Monahan has been a very nice surprise for the Canadiens so far this season. His 14 points in 22 games so far this season is good enough for fourth on the Canadiens. He is the team’s second most utilized center by coach Martin St-Louis, averaging 17:25 of ice time per game, being utilized in all situations including power play and penalty kill. He leads all Canadiens’ centers with a 55.2% success rate in the faceoffs’ dots. Reliable at both ends of the ice, he also leads the team with 16 takeaways this season.

Keep or trade?

Because he is pain free and playing so well, the pending UFA’s future is not as clear as it was this summer when the Canadiens acquired him. Most people thought that he would come in and wear the uniform until trade deadline and, if he had a decent season, he would be traded.

Not so fast. He fits in so well with the team’s young core and serves as such a good veteran and model for the young Habs, that more and more people are contemplating the idea of offering Monahan a contract extension. And rest assured that while a decision hasn’t been made one way or another, Canadiens’ GM Kent Hughes is looking at that option as well.

“It’s been great, playing in all situations,” said Monahan. “It’s a pretty young group. It’s been a lot of fun to be able to be a leader and learn from some of the younger guys and the coaches. Just being here, a fresh start, it’s been really good, and I love it here.”

My colleague Bob Trask did some pretty amazing research about the value of a first round pick in the mid to later round and if you pay attention to it, you will see that fans (and some members of the media) tend to overhype the value of such picks. Some say that they could bundle them to move up in the draft but that’s a narrative much easier said than done. Hughes tried doing that with his first rounders at the Bell Centre and wasn’t able to do so.

So from where I stand, considering everything, the only way I would trade Monahan is if his hips are causing him issues or if I am offered something that I can’t say no to. It would have to be a first round pick yes, but also a very good prospect. A bit like the Tyler Toffoli trade, which got the Canadiens a first round pick and Emil Heineman too.

If the Canadiens aren’t offered that much for Monahan, a center who does it all on the ice, then I would try re-signing him and trade Christian Dvorak instead, either at the deadline or in the off-season.

Monahan says that he is pain free. Admittedly, he says that he is still working on getting back some aspects of his game but he feels it’s coming along nicely and it will only get better as the season progresses. But one thing is for sure, he loves being in a Habs’ uniform and playing for coach Martin St-Louis. He didn’t mention Darryl Sutter but St-Louis certainly is a far more progressive and young coach who gives his players more freedom on offense.

“Things weren’t going well”, said Monahan about his past couple of seasons in Calgary. “I was hurt and wasn’t playing much. I wasn’t having too much fun. To get a fresh start was huge for me. I’m really happy to be here.”

Calgary’s decision

The reason why the Flames gave up a first round pick to the Canadiens to take Monahan and his contract was because they wanted room to sign UFA Nazem Kadri. More than a quarter of the season in, here are the two players’ statistics with their new team.

3:12PP TOI/GP3:07
0:04PK TOI/GP1:37

Granted, there was some uncertainty about Monahan’s hips but clearly, Kadri hasn’t shown that he’s worth Monahan one for one, particularly that he’s four years older. Let alone being worth giving up a first round pick in addition to the long-time Flames! Something tells me that Kadri’s contract won’t age well, he who signed for seven years for $49 million…

More reading…