Brock Boeser became the newest member of the Canucks organization on Friday night when the club nabbed him with the 23rd overall selection.
The 6-foot, 192-pounder has all the intangibles to become a goal-scoring threat for the Canucks one day, but up first, Boeser will get a taste of NCAA hockey as he is set to enroll at the University of North Dakota this fall.
“He is going to a great program, a storied program that continues to develop players,” said PK O'Handley, head coach of the Waterloo Black Hawks where Boeser scored 35 goals in 57 games this past season. “His adjustment will be seamless. He dominated at the USHL level and I don’t think it will take too long for him to become a major player at the NCAA level.”
When O’Handley first saw Boeser at the age of 14 at a Waterloo futures camp, he knew he was going to be a special player. He never got the chance to draft him, but swung a trade to land him at the end of the 2013-14 season. He got to see how special of a player and person Boeser is up close this past season as the rookie led the Blackhawks in scoring with 68 points.
“He is a hockey player,” said O’Handley. “He plays the game hard, he plays the game fast, and he can shoot the puck. He is just a tremendous young man and that carries onto the ice.
“There was always the idea he was going to be a top level guy. I think the way he played as a young guy under some tough circumstances personally, it got to be pretty special. He scored timely goals. He has good character. Even as a young player I thought he was a catalyst in our room. It’s kind of the whole package, obviously he has some development to go, but I think he has the whole package.
“He certainly has leadership qualities. He is a competitive guy and his inner drive is unbelievable. I saw Jim Benning compare some of his attributes to Joe Pavelski. We had Joe here and they are kind of cut out of the same cloth in terms of how they are wired. They just want to win and they want to compete.”
On the ice, time will tell where Boeser’s game will develop. So far, it looks promising. Off the ice, his personality has already developed.
“He really comes from a tightknit family and obviously there was some tragedy this past season. I think his parents did a tremendous job with him. The support staff he has had from youth coaches to high school coaches. He is who he is, and I think the things he went through you don’t want anyone to go through, especially a young person. It really put life in perspective for him and allowed him to really focus in and chase his dream. He lives day to day and will chase his dream to the bitter end.
“He is a great kid. He is humble, he has a little bit of swagger to him in the right way. He is funny and he cares. He cares about the people he knows. He is just a real genuine person.”