Canucks' Boeser on trade rumours: 'I want to stay in Vancouver'

VANCOUVER – For the second time in less than two months, Brock Boeser answered questions Thursday about the possibility of being traded by the Vancouver Canucks.

This is his world now.

He’s an excellent young player, a 23-year-old Calder Trophy runner-up who has scored 75 goals and 161 points in his first 197 NHL games.

But Boeser isn’t Elias Pettersson or Quinn Hughes, and also is less impactful at this stage of his career than teammates J.T. Miller and Bo Horvat. So, among the Canucks’ top players, the ones other teams inquire about, Boeser is the logical one to include in trade conjecture when Vancouver needs to upgrade at another position or duck under the salary cap. And this off-season, the Canucks need to do both.

It is pretty easy this week to connect the dots between the Canucks and Minnesota Wild.

Minnesota general manager Bill Guerin, spending like it’s 2019 with a $42-million contract extension for shutdown defenceman Jonas Brodin, needs to trade Matt Dumba sometime before the Seattle expansion draft next year. Dumba is the only defenceman among Minnesota’s top four, which will soon carry an average annual cap charge of $27.1 million, without a no-movement clause.

A lot of general managers would love Dumba on their team. The Canucks need to upgrade their defence, and Boeser, who is from Minnesota, looks like a great fit for the Wild.

Calling NHL central registry.

"I haven’t heard too much, honestly," Boeser told reporters in an end-of-season video conference. "I don’t think I’m going to get traded. Obviously, rumours are going to happen and stuff is going to be out in the media. But I love Vancouver, I love the guys that I play with, I love the organization, the fans. I want to be a Canuck.

"I think our team is right there and we can win a Stanley Cup in the next couple of years. I truly believe that. And I think our coaching staff and our teammates believe that as well. I want to be a Canuck, and I want to stay in Vancouver."

But on his second contract, a three-year bridge deal that will pay Boeser $5.875 million for another two seasons, he doesn’t get to decide where he’ll play. Canucks general manager Jim Benning decides.

And Benning said Thursday he isn’t trying to trade Boeser.

"Lots of GMs call us about our players," Benning said. "I listen and sometimes we have a conversation. That’s my job as a GM. If I’m not listening to other GMs, then I’m not doing my job. But we’re not trying to trade Brock Boeser. I have not had a conversation with Minnesota about him."

Benning declined further comment. But trade speculation, manufactured or not, isn’t going away.

The Canucks are trying to re-sign three important and expensive players before they become eligible to leave as unrestricted free agents on Oct. 9. But to retain (in order or priority) goalie Jacob Markstrom, winger Tyler Toffoli and defenceman Chris Tanev, Benning almost certainly has to offload some salary.

Trading Boeser for Dumba, who has three years at $6 million remaining until he hits unrestricted free agency, doesn’t save the Canucks anything. That would be a hockey trade, and from here it looks like the Canucks would need more than Dumba even if they were willing to move Boeser.

There are a lot of options Benning can explore to ease the cap crisis, such as trying to dump a bad contract like Loui Eriksson’s ($6-million cap hit) or Brandon Sutter’s ($4.375 million), trading depth defenceman Jordie Benn ($2 million) or moving on from restricted free agents Troy Stecher ($2.325 million last season) or Jake Virtanen ($1.25 million).

Trading Boeser should be a last option, not the first one.

Until his third full regular season ended with a 12-game goal drought and fractured rib cartilage, Boeser had 43 points in 45 games and was 21st in NHL scoring.

His hot-and-cold season was replicated in the Canucks’ surprising 17-game summer playoff run to Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Boeser was excellent in the qualifying-round win against the Wild and early in the next round against the St. Louis Blues, but he went 11 games while scoring only one goal, managing just 14 shots during that spell. Four times in those 11 games, Boeser did not register a shot on goal, something that occurred only once in 57 regular-season games.

"I think it’s really eye-opening for our group to kind of see how far we’ve come," Boeser said of his first playoffs. "I really think that we’re right there. We’re so close to being in the finals. Personally, I’m really happy with the way I played. I thought I played really hard and was really committed to the 200-foot game.

"Something I think I could have done better, I thought I could shoot the puck more. When I shoot the puck, it drives my game and that’s when I play better and generate more scoring chances. Just kind of looking at that, I feel that I could have shot the puck more. It’s definitely something I’m thinking about and am going to bring back ready to go for next season."

He’s confident he’ll be part of the Canucks next season, but admits "whatever happens, happens."

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