What Would You Do Wednesday: Bo Horvat

Welcome to a new feature here on Canucks Army and all sites on the Nation Network: What Would You Do Wednesday, where we put you, yes YOU, in charge of your own imaginary Vancouver Canucks. We’ll present you with a different scenario each week, and you tell us how you’d solve it in the comments section below. Give props to the answers you do like and trash the ones you don’t. Easy! We’re back this week after a short hiatus, so let’s get started: 

Last WWYDW, we asked how you would handle the Eddie Lack situation. And of course, you responded with a ton of different solutions. And arguments. Oh there were arguments.

Anyways, reader SJ had the best answer, as selected by the people:

Let Lack play. Stop burying him in the 2nd half of back-to-backs behind a tired team. Let him play some non back-to-back situations, and when it is btb, maybe give him the first game instead. Let Miller try to stand on his head and steal the 2nd game.
He’s a good young goalie and the stats will come around. Also, he seems to be a great teammate off the ice, which is a pretty good quality in a backup, considering he spends more time off the ice than anyone else.

If you’re still interested in the topic, seeing as Ryan Miller’s 0.902 save percentage on the year is getting worrying, you can go back and read the comments in all their glory here.

This week, we ask what would you do with Bo Horvat. Horvat, 19, is Vancouver’s top pospect and has played in five of his nine allotted nine games before Vancouver has to make a decision on whether to keep him with the big club for the balance of the year and burn a year of his entry level deal, or send him back to the London Knights.

Horvat hasn’t seen much ice time under Willie Desjardins, as the Canucks bench boss has only played him an average of roughly 9:20 per night in a fourth line role. Still, Horvat has been Vancouver’s best faceoff man in his short time in the NHL, winning 54% of his draws albeit in a small sample, and has seen a very defensive deployment with a sub-30% offensive zone start rate.

On the other hand, Horvat has been held without a point in his first 10 games in professional hockey, including his AHL stint, and hasn’t really been a threat to score outside of one shift against the San Jose Sharks. He’s also carrying a 38% Corsi which is quite bad, even considering his deployment and teammates.

Horvat is scheduled to take Linden Vey’s place in the lineup tonight against the Oilers and play his 6th NHL game, so the decision on whether to keep him in Vancouver or send him back to the London Knights has to be made soon. If the Canucks keep him, he’ll get to learn from NHLers about the NHL game, and have access to all the Canucks training staff and facilities, but he’ll see very limited game action and may not be that effective in the little ice time he gets.

On the other hand, returning Horvat to London will allow him to keep developing his offensive touch – which is our primary concern about his NHL future – and save a year on his entry level deal that would be wasted by part-time duty. But Horvat may not even be the top line centre on his OHL team once more, as Max Domi has been moved to centre, and certain pundits say that Horvat “has nothing left to prove” in the CHL.

So what would you do? Would you send Horvat back? Would you keep him around? Would you give him an increased role on the Canucks? Would you keep him just to learn from the pros? Why? Let us know in the comments section below!

  • BrandonC

    The idea that he has “nothing left to prove in junior” is asinine. 1.3 ppg is nice, but it’s not like he shredded the league. Corey Perry put up 113 points in his last year in the OHL. Brad Richards shredded the Q to the tune of 183 points in his draft+2 year.

    And it’s not like the OHL is bereft of NHL capable talent that Bo Horvat wouldn’t be taking on each and every night. It’s not like he’d be purely playing against 16 year old nobodies destined to finish their hockey career in the CIS.

    Connor McJesus is one blindingly obvious example, but Dylan Strome is draft eligible and might be something. Cole Cassels. Dal Colle. Whatever.

  • BrandonC

    Well, I would say, play Nichushkin on the second line next to Bonino and Higgins, and move Burrows to the third. Between him and Kassian, they should be able to buoy that line into positive possession territory, and you lose nothing in terms of offensive potency on the second.

    I realize the argument for moving Vrbata to line 2, and Valeri with the Sedins, which might be worth trying… but that should be saved until there’s a particularly concerning dry spell for the top line.

    … Wait, what? We drafted Bo Horvat instead?

    Oh.

    Okay.

    I’ve got nothing then.

      • Canucksfan3322

        Yeah, but Benning’s first pick this year also wasn’t the best. Virtanen has 9 pts. in 9 gms. for the Hitmen whereas Ehlers has 24 pts. in 16 gms. for Halifax and the best option Nylander has 14 pts. in 11 gms. in the SHL.

        • Canucksfan3322

          You’ve already made your mind up and passed judgement on these guys? Just months after being drafted and still playing in junior? Wow. Seems a bit premature but you may not be a stranger to that. Also, you’re getting into Idiot00’s realm if moronic thinking so be careful…it’s a dangerous place.

          • Canucksfan3322

            The numbers from last year also tell us that the Canucks should’ve drafted Ehlers or Nylander over Virtnen. Not to mention that Virtanen has a shoulder injury that could be a problem later in his career. It may not be a problem as well, but definitely something to keep an eye on.

          • Canucksfan3322

            Stats don’t lie. They told us that EHLERS was a better pick last year and that is playing out now. This JOKE of an organization can’t get anything right.

          • andyg

            Is this the same Stats driven knowledge that gave us David Booth? They might not lie, but they sure as hell don’t tell the full truth either. Maybe time to pull your face out of the math for a while and watch some hockey being played. Horvat’s ceiling has yet to be determined as he’s still in the evaluation period of his career. Not to mention he had an injury to rehab through while establishing his value to the team. Lots of time to argue, but don’t ignore the obvious to make a point. Unless you have stats and a sample size that back things up, you are simply using them to troll.

          • Canucksfan3322

            Ehlers has 24 points, Horvat has one assist.

            That’s all you need to know.

            Ehlers has been outscoring Horvat all his life.

            You don’t need a sample size to prove that, their entire existence is the sample size.

          • Canucksfan3322

            Obviously you’re just a troll, but if you’re going to do that at least get the stats right. Bo Horvat doesn’t have any points this year, AHL or NHL. Horvat has more career CHL points than Ehlers, but in one more season.

        • Canucksfan3322

          The last three top 10 Canuck picks have been used on Hodgson (which is now Kassian), Horvat & Virtanen.

          The organization is doing a hell of a job creating a third line of the future…

    • yugret

      I think you have to wait 4-5 months to put Nuchushkin on that line as he is out with a hip injury. Yep. Gone.

      I think Horvat should go back to junior. Canucks want to win now and that means they don’t want to let Bo make mistakes and learn as much as they should. He hardly plays when the score is close and it is later in the game. He needs to play meaningful minutes.

      • andyg

        Think he would have the same injury if a different team drafted him? Anyway, it was just tongue in cheek. I still say they picked the wrong guy.

        But I agree with you about sending him back to Junior, he’s not providing much above what the other guys they can put in his spot will bring. Save the ELC year and let him play ridiculous minutes in London one more season, then take a look next year. I suspect he’ll spend next season in the A, anyway.

        • Canucksfan3322

          Who knows what the injury would have been if he was on another team. He may not have been injured? No way to tell. Maybe he’s fragile?

          Canucks have a lot of centres right now but most of them can’t win draws. Bo can. Bo knows faceoffs. That isn’t reason enough to keep him. He will need to be a top 6 guy for us and he projects to be that guy. So, let’s take our time with him. The Canucks aren’t winning this year or anytime soon, with or without him, so why rush him.

  • yugret

    I keep him around, since there aren’t any better depth centres in Utica and you know injuries will happen at some point. I wouldn’t worry about his ELC sliding since he’s probably never going to be a big point producer and so his RFA contracts aren’t going to break the bank.

  • BrandonC

    When Horvat’s 9 games are up (14 total professional games) he will have had months of learning. Yes, 9 minutes of ice time a night isn’t much, however don’t underestimate the amount he is learning by being a part of a pro team. He is learning the pro game, learning the pace of the NHL, and getting mentored by polished veterans.
    The rest of the season wouldn’t be a loss either as Horvat would go on to play against the best of his age group at the world juniors. After the tournament is over there would only be roughly half a season left in the OHL.

  • valleycanuck

    Send Bo to the minors. Save a year on his ELC. Fast-forward to 2017-18. Enjoy the potential of having the following players contributing to your hockey club for less than $1M each:

    Bo Horvat
    Jared McCann
    Jake Virtanen
    Cole Cassels

    Add to that the fact that Shinkaruk, Gaunce and Jensen would probably be on their 2nd contract and you suddenly have a very affordable mid-to bottom 6 forward group.

  • yugret

    Send Horvat back to junior and allow him to pump up his numbers.

    Then if another team is willing, trade him at the draft for a top 10 pick and swing for the fences for a potential star…

  • Mantastic

    Send him down, there are better options in Utica at the moment.

    to the people who think he doesn’t have anything else to prove, they are horribly wrong, as Horvat’s only notable accomplishment is once finishing top OHL playoff scorer. his foot speed is still an issue even after years of him working on it post draft.

    Send him to juniors, next year having him play top minutes in the AHL for a full season, regardless if he earned it or not, that’s the only way he’ll develop.

    • yugret

      All joking aside, I agree with this 100%.

      Not only is he not ready for the NHL, he will likely require 1-2 seasons in the AHL as well.

      Assuming the organization hopes he can be something more than Manny Malhotra with less footspeed…

      • Mantastic

        The one equivalent I can think of in recent memory is Kesler who never really tore it up in either the US junior national team or college in his one season, split his first season between Vancouver and Manitoba, played the lockout season with the Moose and then had two seasons as a checker. His consistent rise into a 20+ goal scorer and point producer had as much to do with the Sedins and other players providing enough scoring and cover for him to develop.

        But i don’t think that’s a reliable model for Horvat — I don’t think that the only option is for him to prove he can score points at a greater clip in the minors. Ideally he’d go to the AHL and maybe hone his craft there but since that’s out I think it’s more important to be a top leader in the minors than to be a bit player in the majors. Yes yes you can learn all the stuff about being a pro, blah blah (not as if the Canucks and other teams don’t already invest a lot of time and money into that kind of professional development for their prospects — see the summer pro camp for instance) but I don’t think there’s a substitute for being the top guy on the OHL team. Definitely send him down.

        Also why sit Vey out in favor of him? That makes little sense to me.

        • andyg

          I would like to see Horvat succeed at the AHL level before he’s inserted into the NHL lineup.

          Unless we’re talking about a Crosby or Mackinnon, most prospects are not ready to make an impact in the NHL as teenagers.

          The exceptions like Couturier & O’Reilly are rare and Horvat hasn’t done anything to suggest he’s that kind of player.

          Even Kesler scored at a fairly good clip as a 20 year old in the AHL.

          And it still took him a few years to become a top 6 forward…

          • islander

            Kesler could at least skate. Bo looks a step behind out there.

            Then again Vey gets regularly crushed by the bigger teams so maybe keep slowbo up for the year.

  • andyg

    He is the 3 or 4th best centre on the team. Stop dicking around and play him.

    PS

    You stat guys should love him. It is what his game is all about. YOU ALL SAYS THAT NUMBER’S DON’T LIE.

  • andyg

    I agree with those who say he should go back to juniors.

    The reservation I have has more to do with the Canucks lineup than Bo Horvat’s development (which I actually think would be better served in junior). I know that faceoffs are not THAT important, but Linden Vey is not getting it done, and it’s putting too much of the defensive responsibility on the other lines. At this point, Bo Horvat is actually one of the top 12 options we have on the forward line. Since you need 12 forwards out there every night, he should be playing.

    I would prefer to see them keep him longer than 9 games… say, til the World Juniors. Who cares about a year of his ELC? It just gets him to his first bridging contract a year earlier and hopefully makes that contract cheaper. It shouldn’t be a consideration at this point.

    If we keep him until December, hopefully that gives enough time either for someone else to step up and start proving themselves more defensively responsible (either Vey, or someone in Utica) or it gives Benning a bit more time to prove his worth and get something done.

    Yah, this team is not winning the cup this year. So maybe it doesn’t matter what kind of team we ice. But it matters to the fans, to the income the team brings in, to the culture around the club (and hence, what free agents might want to sign here next year)… it would obviously be better for our draft position to tank another year, but that kind of thing takes moral pretty low. It’s a deep draft, and we should be ok if we achieve the stated goal of making the playoffs, which would also keep fans and players happy enough.

    But to do that, we need to ice a better team. Right now, Bo Horvat is a better option to play than Vey is. That may change (or there may be a trade) and WHEN (I’m being an optimist here) that happens – or before his 40th game – they can send Bo back to junior. They shouldn’t feel handcuffed by the 9 game rule.

    • andyg

      How much better do you believe Horvat is than Vey?

      If you believe his development would be better served in junior (with which I agree), wouldn’t he have to be a significant upgrade at the 4LC spot over Vey for it to matter?

      It’s a shame the Canucks (presumably) didn’t offer Ribeiro more than the $1 million Nashville offered him.

      A first line anchored by the Sedins, second line anchored by Ribeiro/Vrbata and third line anchored by Bonino/Higgins (with Burrows, Hansen & Kassian mixed in) may very well have given the Canucks a puncher’s chance to win a playoff round.

      Shockingly, the Canucks are scrambling for centres which is the only reason Horvat might hang around longer than his play merits…

      • Canucksfan3322

        Yes he would. Which is why I said right off the bat that I believe the Canucks should send him back to juniors.

        With the caveat that I don’t think it is necessary to do some immediately, I think his development would not be especially stymied by sticking around until the World Juniors in December. He would still get the 2nd half of a season in London and probably a good playoff run with them as well. And hopefully with his new NHL experience, he’ll light it up.

  • Canucksfan3322

    He’s still at an age where ice time is what he needs to fully develop all aspects his game. I just don’t see him getting those prime minutes in all situations here. If anything it will be the opposite, where he gets very specialized minutes, and in turn only gets to develop certain portions. It’s not like he’s going back to junior to a bad organization with bad coaching. Going back to London knowing where the holes are in his game wouldn’t be a bad thing. Giving a coach like Hunter another year to work on some of the finer points with the kid seems like the best option to me in the long run.

  • Canucksfan3322

    The Advanced Stats community havespoken. Horvat will be nothing more than a Bottom 6 player. Putting him down in the minors to ‘develop his offence’ is a waste since he will never be relied upon for offensive production in the NHL. Keep him where he is, it’s the best way to get him to learn his future role on this team.

    So glad the Canucks fired Gillis for trading away Schneider for a bottom 6 scrub.

  • Canucksfan3322

    I remember when Jim Benning was asked about the so-called “Boston model” at his first press conference and seemed a bit confused by it.

    I also remember the Boston Bruins, much to the chagrin of hockey writer everywhere, keeping an 18 year Tyler Seguin in the NHL an entire season to play spot duty on the 4th line and watch games from the press box.

    I’m not suggesting Horvat is Seguin or the Canucks are the Bruins or that the Boston model even exists. But i do think it’s relevant.

    From Horvat’s perspective, how is travelling around North America on a first class private airplane and practicing daily with some of the best hockey players in the world somehow less beneficial then riding a bus around Southern Ontario with a group of high school kids?

    We’re not talking about some noodle arm late rounder here. This kid was drafted 9th overall, branded as a born leader and future captain.

    I say keep him up.

  • andyg

    Are his stats better than Vey?

    Play the best player!!

    If he looked out of place then sure send him back. His best game was against LA. It is up to our coaching staff to get him into the game. I want to see the best teem on the ice possible.

    If Horvat has a better all round game then he deserves to play and the fans have the right to see him. Vey should earn his way!

    His speed is not a problem but he is young so expect mistakes.