The Vancouver Canucks' struggles this season led to stars such as J.T. Miller and Brock Boeser popping up in media trade speculation. Team captain Bo Horvat also recently surfaced in the rumor mill. During a Nov. 25 appearance on Sportsnet 650, The Athletic's Rick Dhaliwal indicated (at the 23:50 point of the interview) that the bulk of the trade calls received by the Canucks involved Horvat.
It's understandable why Horvat is drawing attention. The 26-year-old is a superb two-way center who's strong on faceoffs, can play a gritty game and reached or exceeded 40 points five times in his eight NHL seasons.
Horvat would be a solid addition to any club. However, his style of play would likely draw more interest among playoff contenders looking to boost their depth at center with reasonably affordable talent. Horvat is signed through 2022-23 with a $5.5 million annual salary-cap hit with no trade protection.
It's unlikely the Canucks have immediate plans to shake up their roster after firing general manager Jim Benning and head coach Travis Green on Sunday. Director of Player Development Stan Smyl has taken over for Benning on an interim basis, and any significant player movement probably won't happen until the new GM has time to evaluate the roster.
The Canucks sit $3.6 million above this season's $81.5 million salary cap. They're allowed to do so because forwards Micheal Ferland and Brandon Sutter are on long-term injury reserve and are expected to be sidelined for the entire season. If they were to shop Horvat, he could net a first-round pick and a quality prospect.
Should the Canucks new general manager decide to peddle Horvat, here's a look at five possible destinations and what the asking price could be. Feel free to express your views on this topic in the comments section below.
The Boston Bruins have regularly finished among the top clubs in the Eastern Conference in recent years. However, they're currently jockeying for a wild-card berth. A bold move for a reliable second-line center such as Horvat could help them rise up the standings.
David Krejci's return to the Czech Republic during the offseason left the Bruins without a suitable second-line pivot. They're using Charlie Coyle as Krejci's replacement, but he's better suited for third-line duty.
Filling the second-line center position for the Canucks, Horvat would fit easily into that spot with the Bruins. While not a slick playmaker like Krejci, he would be an upgrade over Coyle offensively and in the faceoff circle. He could mesh well between second-line winger Taylor Hall and Craig Smith.
With just $2.3 million in salary-cap space, the Bruins would have to send a player to the Canucks to take on Horvat's $5.5 million cap hit for this season. That's where Jake DeBrusk and his $3.675 million cap hit come in. The 25-year-old winger has requested a trade, and management intends to accommodate him. Changing clubs could help him regain his scoring touch after seeing his points totals decline every year after a 43-point debut season in 2017-18.
On Dec. 1, The Vancouver Province's Ben Kuzma reported speculation linking DeBrusk to the Canucks. The Bruins, however, would have to add another player in the deal to make the dollars work for both clubs. They could package DeBrusk with versatile forward Erik Haula ($2.75 million), who's struggling with the Bruins and could use a change of scenery.
After winning the Presidents' Trophy last season with the NHL's best record, the Colorado Avalanche were eliminated from the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs. That disappointing finish generated speculation general manager Joe Sakic could make a major move. On Nov. 5, The Denver Post's Mark Chambers reported the Avs were linked to Jack Eichel before his trade to the Vegas Golden Knights.
With the Avs off to a slow start this season and facing pressure to break through as a Stanley Cup contender, Sakic's rumored interest in Eichel suggests he's in the market for a center. Horvat could be a player on his radar.
The Avalanche already have Nazem Kadri as their second-line center, and he's off to a terrific start with a team-leading 30 points. However, the 31-year-old is due to become an unrestricted free agent in July and will seek a substantial raise over his current $4.5 million annual average value. Kadri's habit of drawing postseason suspensions could provide additional motivation for Sakic to sell while his value is high.