Bo Horvat leaving Vancouver has always been considered a possibility. Then it became a reality on Monday with the Canucks trading their captain to the New York Islanders.
Horvat will travel to Long Island in exchange for forward Anthony Beauvillier, potential forward Aatu Raty and the conditional first-round pick in this year’s draft, the teams have announced. The decision to leave Horvat was expected considering he was a pending unrestricted free agent who had yet to find common ground with the Canucks on a new deal. Still, the fact that he went to the Islanders came as a bit of a surprise considering they weren’t among the teams that were rumored to be in play.
The Islanders closed the weekend two points behind Metropolitan Division foe Pittsburgh Penguins for the final wildcard spot in the Eastern Conference. However, the Penguins played three fewer games than the Islanders with the Sabers sandwiched in between while playing the same number of games as the Penguins.
The addition of Horvat gives the Islanders a top-six center whose 31 goals are tied for eighth while his 54 points are tied for 21st. He also gives the Islanders another striker who can be trusted in a number of situations. Horvat led all Canucks forwards in five-for-five ice time, shorthanded minutes and was second in power-play minutes, according to Natural Stat Trick.
As for trying to retain Horvat for the long term? The 27-year-old is in the final season of a six-year contract extension worth an average of $5.5 million annually. He would be one of four UFA pending on the Islanders’ roster – defenseman Scott Mayfield, forward Zach Parise and goaltender Semyon Varlamov – who need a new contract. CapFriendly predicts the islands would have $16.275 million of available cap space.
The split with Horvat is also the latest in what has been a difficult season for the Canucks. They entered the 2022-23 campaign with playoff expectations after Bruce Boudreau replaced Travis Green after an 8-15-2 start. From there, the Canucks found cohesion under Boudreau and went 32-15-10 for the remainder of the season. Although they were down five points from a wildcard spot, what Boudreau achieved raised expectations that the Canucks could potentially reach the playoffs for the first time since the 2019-20 season.
Instead, the team started this season with a seven-game losing streak and collected just two points from a pair of overtime losses. The Canucks came closest to .500 on Dec. 27 when they were 16-15-3 to then drop seven of their next eight games, which has now stretched to eight losses through Dec. 21. January – the day that turned out to be Boudreau’s last game behind the bench.
The Canucks fired Boudreau and replaced him with former Arizona Coyotes coach Rick Tocchet, who previously served as an analyst on TNT broadcasts. The Canucks won their first game under Tocchet but lost their second — a five-goal loss to the Seattle Kraken — prompting Tocchet to say in his postgame remarks that the team was “soft.”
All of these events also led to the Canucks being closer to the lottery than the playoffs. They were 14 points from the last wildcard spot in the Western Conference coming Monday while having nine points more than the Chicago Blackhawks, who currently have the fewest points in the West and the second fewest in the NHL behind the Columbus Blue Jackets. The Blue Jackets had 33 points to start the week while the Blackhawks had 34.
Beauvillier’s arrival now means the Canucks have a top-nine forward who, at 25, could be part of their future plans. He has nine goals and 20 points in 49 games. He’s currently on track to finish the season with 34 points, which would match what he scored last season in 75 games. As for that future? Getting Raty and a first-round pick could also prove beneficial in the years to come.
Raty, who at one point was considered a first-round pick, ended up making the second round in 2021. The Finnish center spent one more season playing for Jukurit on loan from Karpat in the Liiga, the highest division. higher. Finnish hockey, where he scored 13 goals and 40 points in 41 games. Raty moved to North America early this season where he mainly played for the Islanders AHL affiliate. He has seven goals and 15 points in 27 AHL games and also has two points in 12 games with the Islanders this season. Raty’s most recent game came on Sunday when he recorded just under nine minutes and two shots in the Islanders’ 2-1 overtime win over the Vegas Golden Knights before being loaned to the AHL .
Coupling the Islanders’ first-round pick with their own first-round pick gives the Canucks more draft capital in what is seen as a promising draft class. It’s possible the Canucks are among the many teams that remain in contention for the No. 1 pick to take top projected skater Connor Bedard. In total, the Canucks have four picks in the first three rounds and seven picks overall.