GRAND FORKS — Brock Boeser stood on the University of North Dakota men's hockey bench as practice ended Wednesday, Sept. 11.
He greeted his old friends like athletic trainer Mark Poolman, got his first glimpse of the massive new scoreboard above center ice, then went to work himself.
With no contract in hand for the upcoming season — and training camp just days away — Boeser has returned to Grand Forks to work out in Ralph Engelstad Arena.
Boeser is expected to remain in Grand Forks in the near future as his agent, Ben Hankinson, and the Vancouver Canucks try to nail down a contract. Boeser is a restricted free agent.
According to a media report Tuesday by Sportsnet's Rick Dhaliwal, the sides are still far apart, and Vancouver's lack of salary cap space is complicating the issue.
In Grand Forks, Boeser will run through drills provided by UND associate coach Dane Jackson, a former Vancouver Canucks player himself.
Boeser has scored 59 goals in 140 games for Vancouver in a little more than two seasons. He led the team in goals and points in 2017-18 as a rookie, despite missing 20 games with an injury. Last season, he finished third on the team in goals and points.
It was just four years ago when Boeser first stepped foot on campus in the fall, showing glimpses of what was to come.
He took the country by storm as a rookie, scoring 27 goals and 60 points in leading UND to the 2016 NCAA national championship. In the national title game against Quinnipiac, Boeser had a goal and four points.
He returned to school for his sophomore season, but battled a wrist injury throughout the season. He had 16 goals and 34 points that season and turned pro after UND lost to Boston University in double overtime in the first round of the NCAA tournament.
Boeser made his NHL debut the following day in St. Paul, scoring a goal for the Canucks against the Minnesota Wild.
Boeser isn't the only former college hockey player returning to his alma mater to skate while waiting for a contract. Winnipeg Jets restricted free agent Kyle Connor has been skating at the University of Michigan.
Boeser and Connor finished 1-3 in the nation in scoring as rookies in 2015-16 and played against each other in the NCAA Midwest Regional championship game in Cincinnati. UND won that game 5-2 to advance to the Frozen Four in Tampa.