Bo Horvat: 2013 NHL Draft Player Profile #19

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TopShelfProspectsBo Horvat is the third member of the OHL’s London Knights on our draft board, and it should come as no surprise that a team who set a record for longest CHL winning streak this season and finished first in the OHL, would have talented prospects like Horvat, Nikita Zadorov, and Max Domi mixed in with its veteran players.  London has become a virtual factory of NHL talent since being taken over by Dale and Marc Hunter, and the Hunter influence is definitely seen all over Horvat’s game.

A member of last year’s Knights team who won the OHL Championship, and lost the Memorial Cup final in Overtime to Shawinigan, Horvat and the Knights look to get back to the Memorial Cup and settle their unfinished business this season.  They took another step towards that goal with a 5-4 OT win in game 5 of the OHL’s Western Conference Final, to win the series.  They now await the winner of Barrie and Belleville to determine their opponent for the OHL final.

Horvat has also experienced success on the international stage.  He was a member of the 2011 Team Ontario squad that won gold at the U17 World Challenge, as well as the 2012 Team Canada squad that won gold at the Ivan Hlinka tournament, playing a key role for his team in both of those tournaments.

Born Apr 5 1995 — Rodney, ONT
Height 6.00 — Weight 198 — Shoots Left
February Rank 21

Horvat has very good vision, good passing skills, and excellent hockey sense.  This makes him an effective playmaker in the offensive zone.  He goes to the dirty areas of the ice winning board battles and taking the puck to the front of the net.  He also likes to establish his front of the net presence where he can unleash a heavy shot with a good release from the slot.  Horvat has good hands and is able to control the puck effectively on the rush or off the cycle game.  He protects the puck extremely well, and makes smart plays in the offensive zone.  Not the fanciest player, Horvat creates offence through simple, smart, straight ahead plays, and getting to prime scoring areas.  Its the type of game that will translate effectively to the next level, so long as Horvat continues to bulk up and add strength as his opponents get bigger and stronger in pro hockey.

Horvat is a quick skater, and he has greatly improved his speed and acceleration this year.  What was once a weakness has now become a strength and shows Horvat’s dedication to continue improving his game.  Horvat’s good balance and strength on the puck allows him to fight through checks.  He could use work on his agility, and his edgework could still use improvement, but Horvat’s skating overall has improved greatly since last season.

Horvat is an effective defensive presence.  He is extremely effective on faceoffs and on the penalty kill.  He cuts down passing lanes, blocks shots, and plays a very responsible game and is hard on the backcheck.  Knights’ coach Dale Hunter has not been afraid to use Horvat in any situation and he plays big minutes against top lines.   Horvat works hard and wins board battles as well.  He’s not afraid to throw his body around, but he’s not really a huge hitter either, he hits not to get himself out of position and throw thunderous checks, but with the purpose of playing smart hockey and separating his opponent from the puck.

Horvat’s game and style of play is reminiscent of Patrice Bergeron.  However this is a stylistic comparison only.  In terms of potential, Horvat can be an effective top 6 centre in the NHL, strong in all aspects of the game, and capable of logging minutes against top lines, on the penalty kill, and providing scoring and playing the powerplay.  He can be one of those versatile centres that can do it all, and any team needs to be a true contender.

Check back tomorrow for our number 20  prospect.

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