The Brock Boeser we are currently seeing, can’t find the back of the net like he had in his rookie season. This begs the question: Has Brock Boeser really improved during these past few years?
VANCOUVER — Although Brock Boeser has been one of the top three Canucks scorers all year long, his play has raised some questions. Many fans of the Canucks believe that his shot has regressed, and it is common to see him catch flack on Twitter.
I’m going to dive into all of the analytics through Boeser’s NHL career to find out if he has improved since his rookie season.
To find out what Boeser’s progression has been like since his inaugural year, we must first look at his rookie season. Brock Boeser hit the west coast like a typhoon in 2017. He came into the rebuilding Canucks roster and provided immediate offence. In his first 10 games of the season he had 13 points and a hat-trick which quickly placed him in the Calder conversation.
Although Boeser had a fantastic start to his season, he would slow down which made way for Matt Barzal to lay his claim to the Calder Trophy. Boeser would slow and have the occasional two-game dry spell but he was still the most exciting thing about watching Canucks hockey.
His shot on the power play put fans in awe. 10 of his 29 goals in the season came from the man-advantage. He would cap off the season with 55 points in 62 games which was good enough to earn him the second place in Calder voting.
One of ‘Prince Charming’s’ season highlights would come at the NHL All-Star Game where he represented the Canucks. He impressed the fans enough to earn the 2018 All-Star Game MVP. He was the first rookie since Mario Lemieux in 1985 to accomplish this feat.
Unfortunately, Boeser would suffer a significant back injury that left him sidelined for the remainder of that season.
Boeser would boast a 48.4% even strentgth CF which is an impressive accomplishment for a rookie forward. With this being said, it is important to take into account that Boeser would have been playing the majority of his games against shutdown lines that didn’t focus as much on offence and therefore boosted his Corsi.
Although Boeser wouldn’t begin his sophomore season in the storming fashion like in the year prior, he did play well. The 2018-19 year saw Boeser post 10 points in 13 games before falling to a groin injury that kept him sidelined for 11 games.
Perhaps it was the fault of his injuries, but when Boeser returned, he didn’t seem to have the same snap in his shot. Albeit, he did improve his point totals from the year before. Boeser recorded 56 points in 69 points which was a new career-high. Oddly, his goal total decreased by three.
Whether it was the arrival of a new star rookie in Elias Pettersson who would take some the shots formerly exclusive to Brock or simply injuries racking up, something had changed in Boeser’s game.
It seemed that Boeser had transitioned his game. He was now focusing less on finding his own shot and more on just trying the help the team score. This is backed up by the increase in his CF by almost three percent up to 51.6%.
Some may have viewed this season in a disappointing manner. This was mainly due to Boeser not taking big steps forward in terms of his point total.
Contrary to that opinion, others could argue that teams had simply been able to scout Boeser more effectively after he had a season of games under his belt. If you combine that with the toll that his injuries may have played, it creates a different argument.
Maybe Brock Boeser was just changing the way he plays the game?
The 2019-20 season has been a mixed bag for the Minnesota native. On one hand, he has been having trouble maintaining the goal scoring pace set in past seasons. On the other, Boeser is statistically on his way for a career-high in both points and assists.
Excluding his current four game stretch without point (granted, he has spent two of those games on the third line), he has been a consistent point grabber throughout the entire season.
At 10.5%, Boeser’s shooting percentage is at a career-low. If you factor this into the idea that Pettersson and J.T. Miller may be taking some of the shooting opportunities from Boeser, you may have an answer. Maybe Brock Boeser is just having another off-year and he will return to status-quo next season.
Regardless, of if Boeser’s recent shooting is just a phase, we know one thing for sure. His overall play has improved. He’s contributing in ways that aren’t measured in goals. The 22 year-old is becoming an high-level play-maker with more assists 49 games into this year than he had in his entire rookie season.
If Brock Boeser can stay healthy, he is on pace for a career-high in points and possibly his best season yet. He will be looking to stretch out his career-best 54.7% CF as the season caps off as well.
So Has Brock Boeser Really Improved?
The stats and analytics lead me to believe that Boeser has definitely improved since his rookie campaign. His CF and passing ability have both grown, the only thing that comes into question is his shot.
Taking into account his shooting percentage decrease (which should return to normal) and the additions of more goal scorers, it is understandable that Brock is not on pace for a career-best in goals.His passing on the other hand, seems to have improved exponentially. If Boeser’s shot can find the netting more often, we may be looking at one of the most dynamic Canuck players in recent memory. That is if he can continue his exceptional passing.
Everything facet in his game excluding his shot has seemed to have improved according to the eye-test and the analytics. Brock Boeser has become a much more complete player since his rookie season.
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