Since the opening night of the 2022-23 NHL season, Bo Horvat, the captain of the Vancouver Canucks, has seen his name in the rumor mill. On the cusp of a hefty pay raise at the end of his current deal, the talented top-line center added more intrigue to the situation by scoring a career-high 31 goals in just 49 games.
Unfortunately, individual success didn’t transcend down the lineup as the Canucks have struggled all season, resulting in their head coach Bruce Boudreau getting fired last week. Now, the current state of the franchise is not on the shoulders of Boudreau or even Horvat. Rather, it’s about upper management failing to build a legit contender. Despite boasting a young core with Elias Pettersson, Quinn Hughes and Brock Boeser, the team has only qualified for the postseason twice in the last decade.
On Monday, the team pulled the trigger on a deal to send Horvat to the New York Islanders in exchange for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Ray and a protected first-round pick. As the top trade bait candidate comes off the board, we look into the winners and losers of today’s big Bo Horvat trade.
The Vancouver Canucks win the first blockbuster trade of the season
When superstar contract negotiations become a focal point during a season, those moments usually become a distraction. Moreover, the Canucks’ losing ways have garnered enough headlines. However, with each loss, the media would turn and pose the following question. Will this hinder Bo Horvat’s chances to stay with the club?
Now that Horvat is gone, leaving a captaincy vacancy, the team can shift its focus to the future. Consequently, they just hired Rick Tochett as their coach, who will reshape their style of play while management can focus on adjusting the roster for their vision. Ultimately, this trade signals that the team will head in a different direction now and hand the leadership to someone else, like Hughes or Pettersson, as the next faces of the franchise.
The New York Islanders put the Eastern Conference on notice
Four years ago, the Islanders surprised everyone by advancing to the Eastern Conference Finals. In an encore performance, they lost in the Final Four during the NHL playoff bubble in the COVID-19-shortened season. However, they dropped out of contention last season, missing the playoffs by 16 points.
Surprisingly, there has been little roster turnover with the team adding a handful of veterans like Zach Parise and Zdeno Chara to replace Jordan Eberle, Leo Komarov and Nick Leddy. Nevertheless, even with the return of captain Anders Lee last year and the impressive performances from goalie Ilya Sorokin, the Islanders struggled then and continue to struggle today.
However, the fortunes of this franchise just changed with one transaction. After spending decades trying to get a new arena to call home, the fans can now go to the recently opened (2022) UBS Arena with renewed hopes of seeing a championship on home ice.
Once Bo Horvat arrives on Long Island, he will link up with Mathew Barzal, and the pair should make some magic together. Right now, the team sits just two points out of a playoff spot and could put the rest of the Eastern Conference teams on notice with this move.
Anthony Beauvillier is one of the trade’s biggest losers
Beauvillier has been a member of the Islanders his entire career after being drafted in the first round in 2015. Although the winger has never cracked 40 points, he is the odd-man out now instead of a piece of the puzzle for a championship contender. Ultimately, the move highlights how the team may feel he has reached his ceiling and would benefit from a fresh start rather than continuing his current struggles.
Ultimately, this transaction could reignite the gamesmanship that got him drafted in the first round after an adjustment period. Instead of playing with Barzal, Lee and Josh Bailey, he goes to a franchise with gifted stars like Pettersson, Hughes and Boesar, given an excellent opportunity to find success again. However, it must be tough to know that a franchise that has taken care of you for many years decides to cut ties, assuming you are no longer part of the solution.
The Canucks fans are potential winners and losers in the long
As of Monday night, the Canucks currently have the sixth-best odds of winning the NHL Draft Lottery at 7.5%. Officially, there is no such thing as “tanking” in the league. But underachieving teams tend to trade off valuable players to prolong losing streaks as a way to ensure a place at the bottom.
No matter what the coaching staff or management say to the media, it is clear the Canucks have a plan aimed for the future because they traded away their second-leading scorer in that of Bo Horvat. Sadly, the team is 14 points out of the playoffs and is in the middle of no man’s land. They won’t make up the ground to get into the postseason and have too many wins to be in the bottom.
However, a few tweaks here and there and those wins may take more work and result in better draft odds for the consensus number one pick, Connor Bedard, from Vancouver.
The fans may suffer today with additional losses. But those numbers also result in a better chance to draft Bedard, a generational superstar who will alter the franchise on and off the ice. Now, there are no guarantees with the Draft Lottery. However, trading away the team’s captain, who is also a star, suggests that this team has its eyes set on something else. Whether it is the first overall pick or several first-round picks, that seems to be the case here.
Ultimately the fans will have to endure some hardships to reap the potential rewards. Back in the day, when the franchise drafted Henrik and Daniel Sedin in 1999, the fans had to wait 10 years for them to bring the Canucks to the Stanley Cup Final. Right now, the future of this team is Pettersson and Hughes, who will usher in a new era of success.
If the Canucks do not win the draft lottery, the fans will suffer through a rebuild with an uncertain outcome. Overall, if this year’s suffering pays off and the team earns the top pick, there wouldn’t be enough words to describe the enthusiasm of fans in British Columbia.