Things can change very quickly in the NHL — just ask Bo Horvat.
Horvat, the top trade target in this year’s class, was officially dealt to the New York Islanders on Monday as part of a three-player blockbuster, ending his tenure with the Vancouver Canucks after nine seasons. He was originally selected ninth overall by the franchise in 2013.
The Canucks captain had been an integral member of the organization for several seasons, dating back to his breakout 2016-17 campaign, where he notched 20 goals and 52 points in 81 games. The centre was also the club’s longest-tenured skater and served as their captain since 2019-20.
At this point, Vancouver had no choice but to maximize Horvat’s value after contract talks with the impending unrestricted free agent stalled. Before negotiations reached a standstill, the 27-year-old was confident he’d remain with the franchise for the rest of his career.
“I’m not going to lie, in the summertime and even at the beginning of the year, I honestly thought I was going to be a Canuck,” Horvat said. “I thought I was going to be a Canuck for life, to be honest with you. Things just didn’t work out that way.”
— Tim and Friends (@timandfriends) January 31, 2023
Horvat admitted he was a little shocked by the timing of the trade and wished things could’ve worked out better with the Canucks. But he also stated he is extremely excited to join the Islanders and is ready to help them attempt to surge into a playoff spot.
As part of the trade, Vancouver is retaining 25 percent of Horvat's $5.5 million cap hit, per Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello. The move provides New York with $2.59 million in cap space, according to PuckPedia.
Lamoriello also added that he hasn’t started negotiating a new contract with Horvat’s representatives. He is hopeful both sides can agree to a long-term deal soon, though.
Isles GM Lou Lamoriello on media call says he hasn't had contract talks yet with Horvat's camp but obviously hopes that's something that will happen.
— Pierre LeBrun (@PierreVLeBrun) January 31, 2023
The Islanders are currently sixth in the Metropolitan Division at 25-22-5 with 55 points, positioning them three points shy of a playoff spot as they enter the All-Star break. That gives them the NHL's 13th-worst points percentage (.529) – one away from finishing in the bottom 12. The 2023 first-round pick heading to Vancouver is top-12 protected, and it will become an unprotected 2024 first-rounder if the Islanders end up drafting below their current position.
Horvat will aim to help his new team avoid that disastrous fate, joining an impressive forward group that includes Mathew Barzal, Anders Lee, Brock Nelson and Josh Bailey. Horvat has 31 goals and 54 points in 49 games this season, which ranks him atop the Islanders' scoring charts by a healthy margin.
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