If, as expected, an NHL trade sweepstakes for Vancouver Canucks captain and center Bo Horvat ensues, should the Boston Bruins get involved?
“If you think there’s a really good chance that you’re losing both Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci after this season, I don’t see how you at least don’t look into this if you’re Don Sweeney,” one of the 14 NHL scouts that was on hand Tuesday night for the Bruins’ 4-3 shootout win over the New York Islanders told Boston Hockey Now.
Horvat is in the final season of a six-year contract he signed as a restricted free agent in 2017 and that carries a $5.5 million AAV. He will become an unrestricted free agent on July 1. After a career-high 31 goals last season, the 6-foot, 215-pound, 27-year-old pivot has 21 goals and 30 points in 28 games this season.
Earlier this week, Rick Dhaliwal of the Vancouver Athletic and co-host of ‘Donnie and Dhali’ on CHEK TV reported that the Canucks captain had recently rejected a contract extension offer from the Canucks.
Hearing Canucks made an offer to Bo Horvat recently and it was rejected.
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— Rick Dhaliwal (@DhaliwalSports) December 12, 2022
Numerous NHL trade rumors on Horvat started to pop up and that prompted Horvat to release a statement to calm the rumor wire:
“I am focused on this season and playing for the Vancouver Canucks, helping the team in any way I can. I will not have any further comments this year about my future,” Bo Horvat said in the statement.
Since then, various NHL insiders such as Pierre LeBrun (The Athletic, TSN), Darren Dreger (TSN), and Elliotte Friedman (Sportsnet), have all confirmed that report and that the Canucks have begun to explore the NHL trade market to gauge Horvat’s value. From Friedman in his latest 32 Thoughts:
“Whatever the case, there was never a time an extension appeared close. As Labour Day approached, Vancouver pivoted to Miller — reigniting talks and completing a contract out of nowhere. Because of what happened with Miller, I’m loathe to declare this over. It sounds like they’ve offered Horvat both seven- and eight-year deals, but multiple sources indicate the chasm is wide and bridging it “will be difficult.”
They’ve definitely put him on the market, with teams indicating the Canucks are asking what you’d want for a premium rental. Tight cap situations mean there’s time to sort it out, and Vancouver could try to sign him again. The challenge as I see it is they’re not keen on going over Miller’s $56 million figure, and Horvat’s monster season puts him in position to go above that.”
On Wednesday, NYI Hockey Now Islanders beat writer Stefen Rosner reported that Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello had already reached out to Canucks GM Patrik Allvin to see what it would take to acquire Horvat. Word on scouts row at TD Garden Tuesday was that the Islanders were now one of a plethora of teams that reached out to Allvin since Dhaliwal’s report on Monday. The The Colorado Avalanche, Toronto Maple Leafs, New York Rangers, Dallas Stars, Los Angeles Kings, Carolina Hurricanes, and Florida Panthers were all teams that were bantered about as interested NHL trade suitors. Again though, what about the Bruins?
“I’m not sure I mess with anything that’s going on in Boston right now,” an NHL executive opined to BHN on Wednesday. “I totally agree that in terms of the center position going forward, that makes sense, but are we that sure Bergeron’s gone after this season? I’ll tell you one thing though, any Horvat talks when it comes to the Bruins and Canucks will definitely start with [Fabian] Lysell and a first round pick. So even if you are thinking about it, do you really want to move Lysell and first rounder in what could be one of the best drafts ever?”
Fabian Lysell by the way, has seven goals and ten assists in 19 games for the Providence Bruins (AHL) this season. The 19-year-old, 2021 first round pick (21st overall), will head to the IIHF U20 World Junior Championships in Canada later this month.
The take here is that both the quoted scout and the NHL executive made valid points for trying to acquire Horvat and for not jumping into the bidding war for him, but at this point, I’m siding with the NHL exec. Another element to consider is, with the Bruins set up the middle on a 1-2-3 punch of Bergeron, Krejci and Charlie Coyle, and extremely deep on the wing, where would Horvat fit in this season?