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Boeser says report of potential trade from Canucks 'really unnecessary'

GM Benning has 'no intention' of dealing forward to help with NHL salary cap

by Kevin Woodley / Independent Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Brock Boeser was excited to be on the ice Monday when the Vancouver Canucks opened training camp, but the forward said he was not thrilled to be mentioned as a potential trade candidate in a report three days earlier.

"I've always been pretty honest with the media, and I feel like it's really unnecessary, even the timing too I thought was pretty questionable," Boeser said. "Last time I checked, the [NHL] Trade Deadline passed, and no one can get traded right now, so it's pretty unnecessary, especially when we're all here and getting ready for playoffs and hopefully to make a deep run."

Boeser said he spoke Monday with coach Travis Green and over the weekend with general manager Jim Benning about the TSN 1040 report, which said the Canucks have discussed trading Boeser after the season to alleviate concerns about the NHL salary cap ($81.5 million in 2020-21).

Benning dismissed the possibility of trading the 23-year-old, who signed a three-year, $17.625 million contract ($5.875 million average annual value) before this season.

"I have no intention of trading Brock Boeser," Benning said. "I haven't had one conversation about that, so I don't know where this stuff comes from."

Boeser has 161 points (75 goals, 86 assists) in 197 games with the Canucks since making his NHL debut March 25, 2017. He was second among rookies with 29 goals and fifth with 55 points in 62 games in 2017-18, when he finished second in voting for the Calder Trophy as NHL rookie of the year to New York Islanders forward Mathew Barzal. Boeser scored 26 goals in 69 games last season and 16 goals in 57 games this season.

"It's hard to find guys that can shoot the puck and score like he can," Benning said. "You can find other pieces as you rebuild your team, but guys that are natural goal-scorers, I don't know."

Boeser missed a month with fractured rib cartilage but returned for Vancouver's final game before the NHL season was paused March 12 due to concerns surrounding the coronavirus. He played that game at right wing on the second line with center Bo Horvat and Tanner Pearson instead of his previous spot on the top line with center Elias Pettersson, and that's where Boeser started training camp.

"We have really good chemistry, play more of the same style," said Boeser, who played on Horvat's line as a rookie. "We are both good down low, and [Pearson] is too, and we get the puck in zone and outwork teams down low and get movement and get pucks to the net. We've had success in the past, and I know on that line I really need to be sharp on my defensive zone too, so it's a challenge and it's really exciting."

The Canucks, who were 36-27-6 (.565 points percentage) in the regular season, enter the Stanley Cup Qualifiers as the No. 7 seed in the Western Conference. They will play the No. 10 seed, the Minnesota Wild (35-27-7, .558), in one of eight best-of-5 series, with the winner advancing to the Stanley Cup Playoffs and the loser having a chance at the No. 1 pick in the 2020 NHL Draft in the Second Phase of the NHL Draft Lottery.

The Western Conference Qualifiers will be played at Rogers Place in Edmonton beginning Aug. 1. The Canucks-Wild series is scheduled to start Aug. 2.

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