Even though the Vancouver Canucks have had some moderate success recently, that hasn’t stopped the trade rumors from flying around. Everyone not named Quinn Hughes and Elias Pettersson is apparently available for the right price (according to Elliotte Friedman) – including leading scorer Bo Horvat and starting goaltender Thatcher Demko.
Continuing the series I started with the Columbus Blue Jackets, I am moving on to another speculated suitor for Horvat in the Colorado Avalanche, who have struggled to find a replacement this season for former second-line center Nazem Kadri. They have tried Alex Newhook, J.T. Compher, and most recently Evan Rodrigues (as of Nov. 21) with moderate success, but on a team that just won the Stanley Cup and is gunning for another one, those options are mediocre at best.
Enter Horvat. He would not only shore up their top six but also give them a solid one-two punch down the middle with Nathan MacKinnon. Of course, to get the most assets out of any trade involving him, an extension would have to be in place with the Avalanche before a deal is consummated. So without further ado, here are three targets the Canucks should be looking at.
With the emergence of Bowen Byram in the playoffs last year and his continued rise up the depth chart this season (averaging 20:47 a night), Samuel Girard has become somewhat expendable. While the Avalanche would probably prefer not to trade him, he’s an asset they could use to address their weakness at center ice. Capable of playing both sides, he is the type of mobile, puck moving defenceman that many teams would want on their roster, so if he does in fact become available, the Canucks likely won’t be the only team interested.
Having said that, Horvat isn’t just any player. He’s a guy that would exponentially increase the Avalanche’s chances at winning a second-straight Cup. As such, I’m sure the Canucks would be a team that could outbid a lot of potential suitors. At $5 million in average annual value (AAV) for another five seasons, Girard’s contract is a bit pricey, but considering he’s only 24 years old with his prime yet to come, there’s still a lot of upside in his game. Basically, what I am saying is, that $5 million AAV could be a bargain in a few years.
I’ve said in the past that the Canucks need more defencemen like Quinn Hughes. Well, Girard checks a lot of those boxes and could anchor a second pairing, giving Bruce Boudreau (or whoever the next coach is) the freedom to implement a high-flying system based on rush chances and quick puck movement.
Compared to the Blue Jackets, the Avalanche’s prospect pool pales in comparison given they have been Stanley Cup contenders for the last few seasons. However, president Joe Sakic has still been able to cultivate some significant talent in the late first and second rounds. One being Swedish forward Oskar Olausson, who was selected 28th overall in the 2021 Draft.