Prospect Profile: #3 Bo Horvat

Thomas Drance
August 28 2013 09:35AM


Image via Matthew Henderson

Bo Horvat was a surprise selection for the Canucks with the ninth overall pick at the 2013 NHL draft. He wasn't much of a reach at that point in the first round, but the circumstances surrounding his selection - what with Horvat being the return in the rather shocking Cory Schneider trade - will be remembered in by Canucks fans for a long time.

So needless to say Horvat enters the Canucks system with high expectations. He makes his debut on our Canucks prospect rankings at third overall, which many of you may think is one or two spots too low.

Read past the jump for more on the team's highest draft pick since Daniel Sedin back in '99.

Horvat was one of the fastest risers during his draft eligible season. Though his statistical profile - 61 points in 67 OHL games - is sort of uninspiring and his comparables are kind of depressing, the responsibilities he took on as an 18-year-old on a non-host Memorial Cup team opened a lot of eyes. For good reason.

The London Knights centre faced the toughest matchups amongst all forwards on his team according to both our in-house estimates, and independent ones, as well. That's pretty rare for an eighteen year old in the Ontario Hockey League, especially when that eighteen year old plays for a dominant club like the Knights.

Playing for the notoriously defensive-minded duo of Dale and Mark Hunter, Horvat was deployed in a shutdown role against players older than him all season long. He distinguished himself as a top-end OHL face-off guy and shot-blocker in the league - which will surely secure him a special place in John Tortorella's heart, assuming the bench boss is still there by the time Horvat is NHL-ready - and still managed to outscore opponents, despite his usage. 

"He's a really good faceoff guy," Sun Media sports editor John Matisz told Canucks Army, "Especially in (London's) defensive zone. They would throw him in there, even if he was dead tired at the end of a shift. The Hunter brothers just trusted him so much." Martisz was the Knights beat-writer for Metro News in London last season, and in one playoff game tracked Horvat extremely closely. Horvat won over 70% of his faceoffs in the contest, which by all accounts wasn't atypical for him last season.

Horvat finished second behind only Vincent Trochek (who is one year his senior) in the Western Conference OHL coaches poll for "best face-off man." Meanwhile the coaches named Horvat the best shot blocker, and he impressed in that area in particular on several high-profile occasions during the OHL playoffs. Although, as our esteemed readers have come to undestand, that particular skill is often vastly overrated in importance.

In the OHL playoffs Horvat often played on Max Domi's wing (though he'd still take all of the faceoffs). Horvat was named the MVP of said playoffs, and at the Memorial Cup he expertly batted one of the sickest saucer passes you'll ever see out of the air to complete one of last season's best hockey highlights:

While it wasn't his offense that made Horvat a top-10 pick, he was productive offensively last season. "He's got decent speed for how big he is, because he's kind of a bulky kid, and he has a good shot and hockey IQ," said Matisz, though projecting his offensive skillset to the NHL is "hard because he's more of a shutdown guy."

Wet blanket alert: Horvat has the skills, but the fact of the matter is that the Knights didn't even outscore opponents when Horvat was on the ice last season without Domi. Horvat helped make Domi more dominant in their limited ice-time together during the regular season, but the WOWYs make plain who was driving the bus offensively for the Knights (per @mattypfeffer):

Offensively, Horvat is a really strong finisher, though he's "more of a distributor than a scorer," says Matisz. Horvat relied heavily on power-play production to score his thirty-three regular season goals last season, which isn't something you generally like to see. His even-strength goals per game rate doesn't exactly jump off the stat sheet. 

Horvat's usage is critical for providing some context here: he faced tougher opposition than Domi did, and was the defensive-zone start ace for a dominant Knights team. And it's not like Horvant wasn't productive offensively, putting up nearly a point per game despite his role. While there's definitely some blemishes on his resume, it's hard not to be impressed with what he did last season all things considered.

Overall, I'd describe Horvat as the best prospect that the Canucks have had in the system since Henrik Sedin. I personally rated him first overall among all the prospects in the system, mostly because of his level of defensive responsibility on a team that just crushed opponents last season. It's rare for an 18-year-old to to play that type of role and do it as well as Horvat did in a pretty difficult development league like the OHL.

The Knights will be automatic entrants into the Memorial Cup tournament this Spring, since they're hosting the tournament. Horvat may well play in the World Junior Championships for Team Canada in addition to the Memorial cup next season too, while also taking on more offensive responsibility for a Knights team that is graduating some key pieces.

Between the opportunities that await Horvat next season in Major Junior, and his modestly inconvenient cap-hit, he'd have to knock everybody's socks off to earn a spot on the Canucks roster this upcoming season.

Horvat's time isn't now, but his future shines brighter than any other Canucks prospects has in a long, long time.

Other Prospect Profiles in This Series:

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Thomas Drance lives in Toronto, eats spicy food and writes about hockey. He is an NHL News Editor at theScore, the ex-managing editor of CanucksArmy.com and an opinionated blowhard to boot. You can follow him on twitter @thomasdrance.
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#51 Ted
August 28 2013, 03:09PM
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Mantastic wrote:

oooooooooooooo, looked good at prospect camp and in scouting reports!! all players should be evaluated by this metric and nothing else

you should be hired for drafting players!!!!!

@ManGoo

Yes, I have already put in my application.

Nice to see you and NM00 are the same person - he needs a best friend...might as well be himself.

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#52 NM00
August 28 2013, 03:19PM
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@Ted

You are hilarious!

Though maybe it's just that I hear Seth MacFarlane's voice when I read your comments.

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#53 Mantastic
August 28 2013, 04:05PM
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@Ted

keep talking about how good he looked in prospect camp! it totally trumps the fact he played so poorly in the AHL he got demoted to the ECHL, fo sho. and that Gillis openly stated his strategy was to draft older players in the 2012 draft.

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#54 Kassasins Creed
August 28 2013, 04:07PM
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Should have took Nichuskin, sick of this ridiculous inherent risk that is attached to EVERY Russian player. And instead of Mallet, they should have took Khaira, iIRC he's currently #6 on oilers prospect rankings done by Jonathan Willis (I think). 6"3 and a beast, mean and isn't afraid to go to the dirty areas.

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#55 Ted
August 28 2013, 04:08PM
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@ManGoo

Hey, you and the idiot troll might be right on these guys. You could be wrong. I am willing to give them time and see what ACTUALLY happens. I prefer that route. I like facts. You guys would rather profess to know how they will develop and that they will suck. Right. Keep on keeping on.

By the way, could you guys give me some numbers for the next 649 lotto?

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#56 Cam Charron
August 28 2013, 04:09PM
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9/11 was really caused by Alexandre Mallet.

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#57 nateb123
August 28 2013, 04:49PM
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NM00 wrote:

It's usually not hard to beat me in a popularity contest...

Any sane person might infer that an excessive amount of talking out one's ass might be the reason...

As for Mallet being bad because he was in the ECHL, if the words "lockout year" aren't explanatory enough, there is no help for you.

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#58 Mantastic
August 28 2013, 05:23PM
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@nateb123

explains why he played in the ECHL after the lockout was over too.

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#59 NM00
August 28 2013, 05:48PM
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@Ted

"Hey, you and the idiot troll might be right on these guys. You could be wrong. I am willing to give them time and see what ACTUALLY happens. I prefer that route. I like facts. You guys would rather profess to know how they will develop and that they will suck. Right. Keep on keeping on."

http://thereadzone.com/2013/02/01/wins-above-replacement-war-is-fine-jim-caples-master-class-in-strawman-argumentation/

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#60 NM00
August 28 2013, 05:55PM
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nateb123 wrote:

Any sane person might infer that an excessive amount of talking out one's ass might be the reason...

As for Mallet being bad because he was in the ECHL, if the words "lockout year" aren't explanatory enough, there is no help for you.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/bandwagon

As for Mallet, if the words "overdrafted based on one fluky year as an overager" aren't explanatory enough, there is no help for you.

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#61 Ted
August 28 2013, 05:57PM
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NM00 wrote:

"Hey, you and the idiot troll might be right on these guys. You could be wrong. I am willing to give them time and see what ACTUALLY happens. I prefer that route. I like facts. You guys would rather profess to know how they will develop and that they will suck. Right. Keep on keeping on."

http://thereadzone.com/2013/02/01/wins-above-replacement-war-is-fine-jim-caples-master-class-in-strawman-argumentation/

@NM00

Well, that settles it. You have got to be one of the biggest piles of human garbage walking the face of the Earth. And that's the bottom line cuz I said so!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=c9zDSJGwdd4

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#62 Nateb123
August 28 2013, 06:51PM
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NM00 wrote:

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/bandwagon

As for Mallet, if the words "overdrafted based on one fluky year as an overager" aren't explanatory enough, there is no help for you.

https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/beingapretentioustwat

Nuff said kid. This isn't grade school/

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#63 NM00
August 28 2013, 07:02PM
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@Nateb123

Pretentious would seem to imply a level above grade school.

Nice try!

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#64 JFR
August 28 2013, 07:06PM
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Are all the throwing of insults around are done?

Horvat is a good pick for third prospect because this was his draft year and he played on a very good team. All those did he make Domi or vice versa will play out over the next few years. Gaunce has more tape to watch and numbers to crunch, but they may well be very similar players. As for Corado, the reason he will be the top prospect is that he is the only one that was put into NHL Playoff service and performed very well. All of the top three can be jumbled around any which way. The facts are that the system is thin and Gillis needs to do everything possible to ensure these top guys round into top 6 forwards and a top 4 Dman. If that means Junior, so be it, if it means Utica.. Sure, but don't put these guys in positions were they will not succeed. Just doesnt make sense right now. Time for Kassian, and Schoeder to step up.

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#65 Ted
August 28 2013, 07:09PM
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NM00 wrote:

It's usually not hard to beat me in a popularity contest...

I'm sure it's not difficult to beat you at anything.

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#66 NM00
August 28 2013, 07:12PM
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@Ted

Slow clap.

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#67 PB
August 28 2013, 08:20PM
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Sidestepping the flame war; I think it's clear that Horvat's got the better potential long-term but at present Gaunce is the more polished player. It's not like they're 10 spaces apart in these rankings. This seems pretty accurate.

It's nice to be able to look at the prospect rankings especially after this draft and a couple of the signings and have more than a few should-make-it rather than hope-for-the-best candidates. Especially nice to see so many 6'0 200lb forwards in the pipeline.

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#68 antro
August 28 2013, 08:54PM
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Cam Charron wrote:

9/11 was really caused by Alexandre Mallet.

Bo Horvat caused the 2004 tsunamis in the Indian Ocean.

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