VANCOUVER — It’s impossible to know Brock Boeser’s future with the Vancouver Canucks, but he will not be leaving the team as an unrestricted free agent this summer.
Although the $7.5-million qualifying offer the Canucks owe Boeser to retain his rights is onerous and likely a non-starter as a launch point to a new long-term contract, president Jim Rutherford said that, if necessary, the team can carry the winger at that price on a one-year deal next season.
Rutherford said that scenario is not ideal and the priority is to negotiate with Boeser and agent Ben Hankinson — before and after the July 11 deadline for “qualifying” restricted free agents — to see what a longer-term deal for the 25-year-old might look like.
But for the record, Rutherford flatly rejects the idea of not qualifying Boeser, which would make him an unrestricted free agent on July 13 and allow the Canucks to use his salary to address other needs.
“No, we’re not going to let him walk,” Rutherford said. “We recognize he’s a good player. We can figure out a way to fit him in next season with him taking his qualifying offer. Everything gets tricky and difficult, but we can figure it out.”
Understandably, there has been no discussion about a new contract while Boeser grieves the loss of his father, Duke, who died May 27 at age 62 after a 12-year battle against Parkinson’s Disease, cancer and other challenges.
Boeser had 23 goals and 46 points in 71 games this season, his poorest campaign since the Minnesotan was a runnerup for the Calder Trophy in 2018. Boeser admitted privately that his dad’s deteriorating health was often on his mind.
“Not knowing Brock as well as I do now — and I don’t suggest that I know him that well, but better than I did — he’s such a good person, a sensitive person who loves his family,” Rutherford said. “And so it was taking its toll on him without question. Everybody felt for him. It was tough. And it doesn’t get any easier; he just had to say goodbye to his dad here, so it’s not going to be an easy summer for him.”
One of the Canucks’ big off-season announcements so far is the deployment of special advisors Henrik and Daniel Sedin to the player development department, which was also bulked up with the additions of Mikael Samuelsson and Mike Komisarek. But the Sedins’ reach in their new roles will go far beyond prospects and minor-leaguer players in Abbotsford.
The twins will be working with NHL players, too, and possibly even the Canucks’ coaching staff.
“Daniel and Henrik are going to be a bridge between Abbotsford and Vancouver,” general manager Patrik Allvin explained to Sportsnet. “They’re available for the coaching staff as well. But the big picture is more to be the bridge for the players that come up (from the American Hockey League). I think there (will be) a lot of individual work with NHL players, too.
“If you look around in pro sports, I would say probably hockey has probably the lowest amount of coaching staff or development staff, and that’s where I felt this role would be something that could really benefit us in the big picture.”
ANOTHER LOTTERY TICKET
The Canucks’ signing Monday of former Minnesota Wild first-round pick Filip Johansson to an entry-level contract is another low-cost, low-risk gamble by Allvin to try to build organizational depth. Last week, Allvin signed Nils Aman to an ELC.
Johansson is a right-shot defenseman from Frolunda of the Swedish Hockey League, Aman a center from Leksands. Both are 22-year-old Swedes who were available as free agents because they were left unsigned by the NHL teams that drafted them. Aman was a sixth-round pick of the Colorado Avalanche in 2020. Minnesota chose Johansson 24th-overall in 2018.
Maybe they develop into players for the Canucks, maybe not. But there is little risk involved in the experiment that will start in the AHL.
Allvin inherited few prospects from former general manager Jim Benning, who himself had to rebuild depth when he replaced Mike Gillis as GM in 2014. But in his first year, Benning traded away draft picks and prospects to acquire 20-something players like Derek Dorsett, Linden Vey, Adam Clendening and Sven Baertschi for the NHL roster. Allvin is restocking the organization more cheaply from the bottom up.
As with player-development director Ryan Johnson, amateur scouting director Todd Harvey has earned respect with Rutherford and Allvin despite being a holdover from the Benning era. Harvey and assistant GM Derek Clancey, Rutherford’s first hire back in December, handled the Canucks’ pre-draft interviews at the NHL Scouting Combine two weekends ago. Vancouver’s scouting departments are overseen by Cammi Granato, another new assistant GM.
“I’m really excited,” Rutherford said of the Canucks’ draft preparation. “And I’ll tell you the biggest thing I’m excited about: Cammi came in and she was given the responsibility to oversee amateur and pro scouting and (player) development. She went to work reading report after report after report and getting an And from there, talking to Patrik and myself about different things and different ideas, she went to work on how these departments were going to work.
“In the amateur meetings, when I sat in those meetings the first day, to where we are today and to where Todd Harvey is today, I am so pleased and excited about it. The reason I tell you that is from a preparation point of view and what we might do in the draft… I am very, very comfortable with that staff.”
Harvey appears to have strengthened his position in the organization even as a handful of amateur scouts were let go by the new regime.
Without a first-round pick in the last two entry drafts, the Canucks hold the 15th selection of the draft in Montreal, July 7-8.