Bo Horvat has been No. 1 on virtually every NHL trade deadline targets list. He’s the biggest name to watch and may also be the first big domino to fall. Trade talks have reportedly heated up within the last 48 hours and multiple national and local insiders have said that Vancouver’s captain could get moved sooner rather than closer to the March 3 trade deadline.
With all of this swirling, it’s a good time to analyze potential landing spots, what the Canucks could be looking for in a package and more.
What does Horvat bring to the table and what’s the optimal team/lineup fit?
Horvat’s evolved into a high-end finisher and elite goal scorer during the last couple of seasons. He’s scoring at a 55-goal pace this year — which probably isn’t sustainable given the outlier 22.9 percent shooting clip he’s operating at — but he also scored at a 36-goal pace last season.
Horvat’s scoring trajectory is similar to Chris Kreider — Kreider could consistently score at a 30ish-goal pace before a massive breakout to score 52 last season. That wasn’t repeatable but Kreider’s on pace for 36 goals this season.
Since the 2021 campaign, Horvat ranks 12th among all NHL players with 31 power-play goals. He’ll be most valuable to teams that need a scoring boost from the bumper spot of PP1, where his wicked release has terrorized goalies; if your club is already set in that bumper role or has an elite first unit, Horvat’s value won’t be quite as strong.
The 27-year-old centre brings a ton to the table at even strength as well. He’s a face-off specialist and was relied on by the Canucks for years to absorb tough matchups against the other team’s best players.
One thing to keep in mind: Horvat isn’t the defensive ace that some might think. It’s not for a lack of effort, Horvat just isn’t gifted with elite defensive awareness. It’s why he’s mysteriously never developed into a quality penalty killer (he plays shorthanded minutes on the Canucks, but that’s only out of necessity and they have the worst PK in the NHL at 66.9 percent).
Horvat’s an excellent offensive driver. He’s become a master around the blue paint with tips, deflections and rebounds. The anticipation he shows in the inner slot, combined with his big frame which is tough to box out, is the type of scoring style that will translate to the playoffs when time and space are at a premium. Horvat’s a proven clutch scorer — he tallied 10 goals in 17 games during the Canucks’ bubble run, the only time he’s had a chance to perform in the playoffs.