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Vancouver Canucks Trade Captain

SEATTLE, WASHINGTON - JANUARY 25: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks skates against the Seattle Kraken during the third period at Climate Pledge Arena on January 25, 2023 in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Steph Chambers/Getty Images)

The Vancouver Canucks finally traded captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders. Whether that’s the right move or not, it’s the direction the team is moving. And they’re doing it without Horvat. After shopping Horvat in a large and loud way, the return for Vancouver is Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty, and a projected 2023 first-round pick.

Bo Horvat Traded To Islanders

Going into the offseason, two contracts stood out for Vancouver. The difficult negotiation was going to be with 99-point man J.T. Miller, while 8-year Canuck and captain Horvat would be a breeze. When the calendar flipped over to September with neither signed, some eyebrows raised. Sure, Miller was complicated given the age and use and all, but Bo?

Stepping back, it did make sense for the signings to occur in this order. Miller’s was going to be the larger amount of money – assuming he wasn’t dealt – so the team couldn’t really plan until he was taken care of. Then the deal was struck, and talk immediately turned to what that meant for Horvat. The team wanted to build around a “strong spine” of Miller and Elias Pettersson joining Horvat in the middle. They had the wings for it, and frankly, after those three, the centre depth was suspect.

If Canucks management hoped to use the pressure of the approaching trade deadline to convince him to sign cheaply, it didn’t work. In fact, Horvat got off to a roaring start even as the team stumbled, scoring six times in their first nine games. That pace didn’t slack, either, and he hit the halfway mark with 30 in just 45 games. It’s unlikely any team has been as delighted and horrified by one of their players’ production as the Canucks.

What it Means

There was a strong argument to be made for trading Horvat – especially after Miller was re-signed. The team still needs to improve their defence and signing him to an extended deal would limit their salary flexibility. After trying to find a middle ground reflecting his current pace and his more historical production all year, he was officially put on the market. The problem is when the Canucks trade captain Bo Horvat, it’s running counter to the direction they chose in bringing in Ilya Mikheyev and locking down Miller.

Moving the captain out is just one more PR disaster for this new management group. Throw on the pile their handling of Bruce Boudreau, the conflict with Rachel Dorrie, avoiding press conferences until forced, restricting reporter access to the team, and other events that have somehow happened in half of a single season.

Horvat’s ice time isn’t going to drop to a typical 7-9 forward, with his new team, nor should it. That’s not who the Islanders traded for. They are getting an excellent faceoff man and power play scorer.

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