We continue on with our First Round Targets series with our first USHL player – the Waterloo Black Hawks’ Brock Boeser. Committed to the University of North Dakota next year, Boeser is a 6’1, 191lb winger that’s known most of all for his goal-scoring ability.
Boeser is ranked all over the map, so it’s hard to say whether he’ll be gone before the Leafs make the 24th overall selection, or if he’ll slip right out of the first round altogether. NHL Central Scouting has him 28th among North American skaters, as does McKeen’s. On Future Considerations’ list Boeser is 26th, on Hockey Prospect’s he’s 14th, and on Corey Pronman’s he’s 31st. Sportsnet’s Damien Cox has him 24th and TSN’s Craig Button, somehow, has him 9th.
In his first USHL season, Boeser found the back of the net often. His 35 goals put him in a three-way tie for the league lead, and his 68 points in 57 games put him third in league scoring. Boeser also captained Team USA’s U18 Ivan Hlinka squad, scoring six goals and eight points in five games on the way to a Bronze medal finish. There’s a lot of players who’ve put up similar numbers in the USHL at that age, and many of them never made it to the NHL – a few names that do stand out however are Kyle Okposo, Patrick Sharp, Justin Abdelkader and R.J. Umberger. Note that those first two comparables are extreme best-case scenarios.
The Eye Test
Here’s an excerpt from Corey Pronman’s Top 100 Draft Prospects (for Insider$)…
He’s a good physical player, with a bulky 6-foot-1 frame and a great work ethic. Boeser is strong on the puck in battles to help maintain possession, and he goes to the net with consistency. He has one of the better shots in this draft class and gets it off quickly with zip.
While he’s skilled, he’s not an overly flashy player; he’s more of a read-and-react player, who also has solid hand-eye coordination. His skating is about average and leans to being a little below that mark; it’s not a huge liability, but he could gain an extra step.
And another scouting report from NHL CSS’s David Gregory…
A strong skating forward who is very effective at getting to open space. He possesses a hard, accurate shot and has the ability to create opportunities off the rush.
Maybe I’m reading into things too much (or not enough), but neither of those reports make me want Boeser. It might be true that all good teams need players like him, but nothing about Boeser’s skill set excites me. He skates alright, he has some offensive upside, and he has a hard shot. There’s no talk of “some of the highest upside in the draft” or “size is the only thing holding him back” or anything like that – just a nice prospect, but maybe not a gamebreaker.
But hey, that doesn’t mean he isn’t capable of scoring some pretty nice goals…
Does He Make The Leafs Short List?
There’s nothing to really dislike about Boeser’s game – he does most things well, and the things he doesn’t do well he at least does well enough to get by. Most importantly, he’s scored at a nice rate so far in his junior hockey career, but there’s still just not enough to get super excited about.
Boeser would likely be a fine pick in the 24th spot, but my gut feeling tells me that other more interesting and higher-ceiling prospects may still be available. Assuming the Leafs’ short list is no longer than five or six names, I don’t think Boeser has impressed me enough to pencil him in. I think at this point, I might be looking to risk a little more for a larger reward.