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Jason Botchford: Boeser’s game-winning laser sure to be a talking point

LOS ANGELES — The Brock Boeser hype train has left the building and all it took was two words.

“That release.”

How good was it? If the Chinese saw it, the government would be chartering a flight right now to get him there.

Call it deadly, dangerous, or just flat out ridiculous, it was all NHL. Boeser won the Vancouver Canucks preseason opener 4-3 with a shot in overtime you’ll be referencing for the next month as you argue whether or not he should make the team.

Put me firmly in the “damn straight” camp.

And from the sounds of it, you can put Jake Virtanen there, too.

“You can’t get a shot better than that — holy,” Virtanen said. “That has to be one of the best shots I’ve ever seen live. Coming down the wing and he just goes shelf.

“And it was like he’s done it all the time. No celebration.”

Even Boeser’s reaction was perfect. He said he got lucky. He never meant to cut the puck through the defender’s legs.

Sure.

But you know who loved it? The coach.

“Humble kid. Says he got lucky? That’s good,” Green said.

It wasn’t enough to get Boeser to China. The Canucks are bringing veterans to China. All of them.

Some of it is because of head office pressure. The NHL is trying to “sell the game.” Overtly or implied, the league made sure the Canucks were keenly aware “a strong veteran presence” was required.

But did the Canucks have to go all-in? Was there not room in this experience for a a few young players? How about one?

Boeser is the presumed guts of the future core. The mature goal-scoring winger with that crazy release was among the Canucks’ most well-rounded players as the final games of the last season.

If you view the China experience as a carrot, he earned it. He also had lots to gain from a week spent hanging out with guys who could be his teammates for years. And also the Sedins.

This could be the twins’ last lap, and the sun is setting on opportunities for them to lead the young players. To some of us, the trip seemed like a big one.

The Canucks, however, see it differently.

“He’s going to be playing in games (back in Canada) and he’s going to be a go-to guy,” Vancouver GM Jim Benning said. “It’s a long flight over there. They don’t get a lot of practice time. They play those two games. His best chance this week and the rest of training camp. He can play 15-17 minutes a night in those games. Play in power-play situations and show us again what he can do.

“This is going to work out really good. The kids are going to get important minutes in important situations.”

JAKE’S BIG BREAK: If preseason matters, Jacob Markstrom is the starter, Alex Biega is on the top defensive pairing, Philip Holm is on his way back to Sweden and Virtanen has made it.

Whatever Virtanen did this summer, it’s worked wonderfully. He’s loose. He’s confident.

And on Saturday, he was good. He hardly played in the first, but soon found his footing. He hit. He scored. And he earned his way onto the ice to start the 3-on-3 overtime.

“I didn’t have him pencilled in at the start of the game for 3-on-3,” Green said.

But he was skating well and you could tell he was confident.

RODIN’S WINDING ROAD: The Canucks said there isn’t a clause in Anton Rodin’s contract which would allow them to loan him to a SHL team if he doesn’t make the NHL club.

It means if Rodin is to leave the organization this season to play in Europe, he’d have to be placed on unconditional waivers and then have his contract bought out.

It doesn’t make a lot of sense for the team to do that unless it’s already been bargained.

Benning said the issue did not come up when Vancouver negotiated Rodin’s one-year, one-way $700,000 contract.

“No, I don’t know where that came from,” Benning said of suggestions the Canucks would allow Rodin the opportunity to go back to Europe if he was assigned to the AHL.

“There’s nothing in his contract. His intention is to make the team. If he doesn’t make the team, then like every other player, we’ll lend him to Utica.”

Asked if there was a scenario where Rodin could go back, Benning said:

“I don’t know. I have never gone down that road.”

Rodin addressed the issue this week and said “if they send me to Utica, I will go to Utica.”

“I signed back here because I  want to play back here,” he said.

jbotchford@postmedia.com

twitter.com/botchford

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