Look at this, another Vancouver Canucks article about Bo Horvat potentially being traded! Well actually, the right word is inevitable at this point.
Also, you are reading this right. This is a Canucks article from me. I haven’t done much of these lately because of this little soccer tournament called the FIFA World Cup. No, I haven’t forgotten about hockey or the Canucks, the World Cup is kind of a big deal.
So as you know, Horvat has been mentioned in trade rumours a lot. He even put out a statement saying he won’t discuss his future. He also said he put out the statement so the rumours won’t be a distraction for the team and he just wants to focus on hockey.
It looks like Horvat is doing a good job of keeping out the distractions for himself. He is having a great season. In 29 games, he has 21 goals and nine assists for 30 points. He is on pace for 59 goals and 25 assists for 84 points.
With the way he’s been playing, Horvat is going to want to get paid. I mean, he is going to want so much money, he’ll say “I gotta do it man” before laying down on his money.
Will be tough for the Canucks to keep Horvat
Unfortunately, hockey isn’t like soccer. There is a salary cap. In the NHL, cap space is important in order to win the Stanley Cup. As we all know, the Canucks don’t have much cap space.
The Canucks have committed eight million dollars a season to JT Miller starting next season. They also have Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s 7.26 million dollar cap hit on the books until 2027. There are also 4.9 million attached to Conor Garland until 2026 and 4.75 million dollars attached to Ilya Mikheyev until 2027.
Ekman-Larsson is not the defenceman he once was and his age has shown this season. Garland has kind of been a disappointment this season as he has disappeared more often than not. Mikheyev so far looks like a good investment. He’s brought speed, and offence and even has helped out defensively and on the special teams.
Similarities to JT Miller’s situation
I mention Miller because he was in this situation for most of last year. There were so many rumours surrounding him and it felt like he was going to get traded. But the opposite happened and Miller got an extension. He’s still a Canuck and while he’s putting up points, (mostly on the power play) he has been displaying a poor defensive game and some awful passes.
The Canucks situation with Miller was the first real test for Jim Rutherford, Patrik Allvin and the rest of the new management group. As I’ve said before, the Canucks were not in the position to give Miller his huge raise because they are not a Stanley Cup contender. They cannot make that same mistake with Horvat.
Yes, they don’t have the cap space to re-sign him (though it is still possible they still could) but letting him walk for nothing would be just as big of a mistake.
The Canucks should have used Miller as the launch pad of the re-tool/rebuild. Yeah, the offers weren’t what probably Allvin and company wanted, but Miller could have probably fetched a first, a young NHLer and a B-tier prospect at least.
If Miller was traded in the offseason, some cap space would have opened up. As a result, the Canucks could’ve extended Horvat by now and at a lower price. A Horvat trade needs to involve draft picks and prospects.
Canucks need to make sacrifices
But enough about coulda, woulda, shoulda about Miller, back to Horvat.
If the Canucks want to start the path toward being a cup contender, trading Horvat is the way to go. It’s going to hurt.
I remember when Horvat was drafted after the shocking Cory Schneider trade. Skating was an issue for him but before his rookie season two years later, he fixed his skating thanks to a skating coach named Kathy McLlwain.
Remember how Canucks fans (including myself) thought he was the next Patrice Bergeron? Well, he hasn’t become that. Horvat isn’t the best defensive or penalty killing player but scoring has become his best asset, especially on the power play. Imagine telling someone in 2013 that scoring would be Horvat’s best trait, imagine the look on their faces.
He is the Canucks captain and losing the captain would indeed hurt the locker room. But the message to the players and fans should be “we are willing to make the hard decisions because we want to win the Stanley Cup someday.”
The opportunity to trade Horvat could potentially open the path toward a Stanley Cup. The Colorado Avalanche traded Matt Duschene in a blockbuster three-team trade in 2017 and five years later, they were having a Stanley Cup parade. Sam Girard was part of that deal and the Avalanche used one of the picks to select Cale Makar. That guy turned out to be pretty good.
I’m not saying the Canucks will get a player like Makar with the first they acquire, even acquiring a late first is a good thing because you still are getting a player with a ton of potential.
The Canucks missed their opportunity with Miller and they cannot do the same with Horvat.
Pierre Lebrun of TSN and The Athletic reported that the Canucks are looking to make a “hockey deal” with Horvat.
“Assumed the Canucks would be asking for a futures-only package, as selling, retooling teams most often do,” wrote LeBrun in his latest article for The Athletic. “But so far, seems that Van is looking instead for more of a hockey deal, to upgrade at center ice and/or RHS D if possible and bring in a player in the 20 something range”
This is not the way to go. Enough with re-tooling on the fly, the last regime did that and look what happened. They need to stop trying to do the same thing and expecting things to change because that is the definition of insanity.
Short-term pain is needed for the Canucks to become a contender. Losing Horvat again would hurt, but if you want to win a Stanley Cup, you need to be willing to make sacrifices.
Teams like the Avalanche, Boston Bruins and Carolina Hurricanes, would be ideal trade destinations for Horvat. These teams are in win-now mode and should be willing to part ways with a first-round pick and prospects. They also need help at centre (especially Colorado with all their injuries) so a Horvat trade would make sense.
The Canucks need to be willing to lose pieces to become a contender and that starts with losing the captain. There needs to be a great team around Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Thatcher Demko, not just one that can sneak into the playoffs.
It’s a shame the Canucks couldn’t become a contender with Horvat because he has proven he can make an impact in the playoffs. But sports and life don’t always go the way you want and you have to be willing to go through some pain for gain.
That starts with a Horvat trade.