It would be a tough feat to improve upon a 29-goal rookie season, but Brock Boeser doesn't seem to have lost his touch.
The winger’s stellar rookie season came to a close after just 62 games, thanks to a back injury sustained in early March—but not until potting 55 points and putting himself among the finalists for the Calder Trophy.
The injury, which came after he absorbed a hit from Islanders forward Cal Clutterbuck that sent him flying into an open bench door, caused Boeser the “worst pain probably I’ve ever had,” he said.
The 21-year-old sniper returned to the ice just in time to start tearing up Da Beauty League, turning in back-to-back hat tricks and a league-best nine points through two games.
“I just saw Vancouver doctors about two weeks ago, and they gave me the green light,” he told The Playbook on Sportsnet 650. “I’ve been going full tilt here the last week and a half and it feels good to be back.”
The time off also allowed him some time to heal a troublesome wrist injury, which he received a injection for in April. Canucks fans—and team brass—should have little trepidation about their budding star’s return to form. Captaining Team Bic, Boeser needed just four shots on goal to tally his opening trio of scores.
“I didn't know how I was going to feel when I got back, how my wrist shot, or my wrist was going to affect me when shooting the puck,” he said. “To get a couple of those goals, where I was shooting the puck, it gave me some confidence.”
Boeser’s Team Bic coach, former NHLer Keith Ballard, doesn’t see much to worry about, either.
“By the looks of the two wrist shots and the one-timer, his wrist is doing great,” he said to TSN 1040’s Mike Halford and Jason Brough. "The release is outstanding."
Ballard, a former Canucks defenseman, sees a star in the making on his Da Beauty League bench.
“The release is outstanding,” he said on The Playbook. “There's certain guys that have the ability to understand how to get open and where to be and when to be there and Brock has that. That's a special quality. There's guys that have that, and Brock has that, which is special.”
Ballard also pointed to Boeser’s understanding of and belief in himself as a sign that he’ll find success in Vancouver, something the veteran saw in his former Vancouver teammates, the Sedin twins.
Not a bad point of comparison for the current Canuck, who will put what he learned from the now-retired legends to the test with the rebuilding franchise’s youth movement, including the team’s 2017 and 2018 first-round picks.
“It is exciting,” he said. “To get to play with the Sedins in their final year, and now it's making that transition to the younger core group of guys, it's fun to see. I'm definitely excited to see what [Elias] Pettersson brings to training camp, and how he does. With Quinn Hughes, if he signs, seeing some video on him. it looks like he's a tremendous skater, really skilled and can move the puck well. It's exciting and it's definitely going to be a process.”
With a year left on his rookie contract, Boeser will almost assuredly cash in as an RFA following the 2018-19 season, but the 2015 first-round pick isn’t too concerned with an approaching payday.
“I'm more worried about focusing on my game and coming back and trying to have a better year than I did last year,” he said. “I know the league isn't going to get any easier and it's only going to get harder as you continue to play.”