Canucks Future Watch: Brock Boeser tearing up the NCAA

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Image: Vancouver Canucks / Twitter

The Vancouver Canucks have quickly accumulated a deep prospect pool through some savvy drafting and patient developing. But no player has made as quick of an impact as 2015 1st round pick Brock Boeser, who has started his NCAA career off with a bang.

When the Canucks drafted Boeser 23rd overall this past June, they knew that he was already committed to attend the well regarded University of North Dakota. That’s the same school that Jonathan Toews, T.J. Oshie, Travis Zajac, Zach Parise and Drew Stafford have all gone to, before moving on to successful pro careers.

Boeser started the year a little slow out of the gate, as it took him until the fourth game of the season to register his first point. However in that 4th game, he scored a hat-trick. The Minnesota native was the first University of North Dakota freshman to score a hat trick since the aforementioned T.J. Oshie did it in 2005-06.

The Canucks’ first round pick is currently on an 8-game streak, where he has 12 points (6-6-12).

Boeser has been playing on University of North Dakotas’ first line with Chicago Blackhawks first round pick Nick Schmaltz and senior Drake Cagguila. They are currently 1-2-3 in points for North Dakota, with Cagguila leading the team with 13 goals, and Boeser second with 11 goals so far.

Late last month, University of North Dakota coach Brad Berry had very positive things to say about the line’s play away from the puck as well:

As much as they’re scoring, they’re good away from the puck too, and that’s creating a lot of their offence.

It’s creating turnovers by the other team and going the other way.

You can kind of get caught up in the one-dimensional side of scoring goals, but they’re (also) playing the right way away from the puck.

That side of the game isn’t exciting for fans, but is very important for the overall development of a goal scorer like Boeser.

But let’s talk about Boesers’ goal scoring abilities again. He had three goals in two games this weekend.

The first goal, the recent first round pick takes the puck off the turnover, attacks the net and roofs the puck.

Boeser 1st goal vs UD

Boeser could’ve easily just taken the puck off the boards, turned and shot but he has the hockey sense and willingness to drive to the net. This forces the goaltender to not get set in time for Boesers’ great shot.

Boeser 2nd goal vs UD

What a shot. The release on his shot is so quick that the goalie doesn’t see it until it is behind him.

Boeser 3rd goal vs UD

Boeser saved his best goal for last, with a nice toe drag and snipe to the top corner on Sunday. Both the second goal and third goal are fantastic examples of how Boeser keeps the puck on the heel of his stick, then rolls the puck to the toe before whipping it. This is what allows Boeser to have such velocity behind his accurate shots.

Another very encouraging sign for Boeser is that he shoots a lot. Out of all NCAA freshman, Boeser is second in shots-per-game:

The defensive play of his line, the way he is scoring his goals, and the stats are showing that Boeser has started his development very well. It’s no wonder that the University of North Dakota program is so well regarded.

Image: USA Hockey

Image: USA Hockey

Boeser was invited to the US World Junior Preliminary Roster on Monday, and is expected to be a shoo-in to make the team this year. He was invited to their summer camp and was very noticeable against other national teams like Sweden and Finland.

I expect Boeser to have a top-6 role on Team USA, who are expected to challenge for the gold medal. The World Junior experience is a fantastic opportunity for prospects, as it pits best-on-best in a high pressure tournament.

A lot of Canucks fans were unsure what the Canucks had when they selected Brock Boeser at last June’s draft. Early indications are the Canucks may have found that big goal scorer who isn’t a liability in his own zone and that’s something to get excited about.

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Ryan Biech Hockey writer for Vancity Buzz
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