Canucks Army Midterm Prospect Rankings: #1 Bo Horvat

Here at Canucks Army, we love three things more than anything in the
world: prospects, prospect rankings, and whining about prospect
rankings.  Every summer we vote on and rank the top-20 Canucks prospects to
take stock of what’s in the system, and every summer we hear vocal
complaints from our readers they disagree with our rankings.

So this year, in our mid-term ranking, we gave you the chance to vote on prospects and
have a say on these players.  Since our summer rankings, we’ve
simplified the definition of “prospect” to any player in the Vancouver
Canucks’ system that is eligible for the Calder Trophy if they were to
play in the NHL this year.  This means that players like Linden Vey and
Joacim Eriksson who were not rated over the summer will be covered in
this series.

Without further ado, here is our top rated Canucks Prospect

#1 Bo Horvat

Previous Summer Ranking: 1

After a few weeks, we have come to the number one prospect in the Canucks system as voted by the writers here at Canucks Army and by our readers.  Surprisingly this vote unanimous with everyone voting for Bo Horvat as the number one prospect in the system suggesting they thought he has the highest probability of success combined with potential ceiling.

Bo Horvat has played in 43 games with the Canucks this year burning both a year of his Entry Level Contract and a year towards becoming an Unrestricted Free Agency, showing the Canucks are fully committed to keeping this young player in the NHL this year.

In this short time he has scored 8 goals and 9 assists good for a 0.40 points/game rate.  He has 40 shots which translates to a 0.93 shots/game ratio, quite low, but reflective of his fourth line 11:05 minutes per game.  Compared to other rookies Horvat is 20th in scoring and 102nd in ice time.

While his goal scoring is quite positive it does not appear to be sustainable at this level.  Horvat was not known for his scoring in the OHL and currently he has a 19.4% personal shooting percentage while his on-ice PDO is just above normal at 101.2%.  

horvat

Coming into the season Horvat was heralded for his faceoff abilities, with some pundits claiming that he was elite.  Horvat did start the season with over a 60% face-off win percentage but that has harshly regressed to a much more normal level down to 51.6%, which is still good for a 19 year old in the NHL and appears to have finally stabilized.

When we look at his fancystats, things start to get worrisome.  His shot attempts both for and against are terrible and he had been playing worse than a replacement level player.  His Corsi-For/60 is 47.74 (at 5v5, 301st for all forwards with more than 300 minutes played), his Corsi-Against/60 is 60.55 (337th), Corsi-For% of 44.1% (326th), and is greatly hurting his linemates when he is playing with them (CF%relTM -5.8, 351st).  

Horvat is being deployed in a very cushy situation.  He’s playing against some of the weakest competition for the Canucks and he has high zone starts showing the coaches (lack of) trust to play Horvat in tough situations.  Despite this easier usage he is still performing terribly in terms of possession.  In more recent games Horvat has been centering the second line as a result of the injuries pushing him further up the line up.

image

The good news is that Horvat is 19 and the fact his numbers are below replacement level currently means little for his career.  He still has 5 years to his peak and will only get better from here.  Combined with the fact that Horvat is already scoring like a middle-6 forward bodes quite well for his success.  Also, Horvat’s fancystats have been as strong as they’ve been in the NHL recently, as he has been fantastic with Ronalds Kenins:

HorvatRollingCF

Some of this likely has to do with being away from Derek Dorsett, who has been terrible this season. Together, Dorsett and Horvat have a 41.5% Corsi, while Horvat is a much more respectable 48.5% Corsi away from Dorsett. With Ronalds Kenins, Horvat is carrying a 53.8% Corsi, which is elite for a 4th liner.

In terms of looking at comparables for Bo Horvat.  When adjusting for age in their draft year the closest NHLers to Bo Horvat are Manny Malhotra, Cody Eakin and Jean-Yves Leroux.  When looking at his ceiling based on his comparables this cohort also includes Todd Bertuzzi and Michael Ryder.  Rhys wrote about Bo Horvat back in September, finding Mike Peca, Ryan O’Reilly, and Mike Fisher as possible similar players too. He summed up Horvat’s potential quite well in a statement that still holds true to today:

“There’s an easy argument to be made that [Horvat]’s at least an average offensive 2nd line centre in the prime of his career with the plus-plus-defensive upside he’s demonstrated in the OHL – a tough commodity to find on the open market.”

Stay tuned for final part this series, which will run on Saturday and cover the voting of prospects in Vancouver’s system!

      • Spiel

        Then why is he in the NHL??? He should still be in Junior, it’s not very smart of the Canucks to let him get dominated like he has been while burning a year of his entry level deal.

    • andyg

      So, the top ranked prospect in the Canucks system has had a generally strong if at times uneven first season as a pro, making the jump from major junior directly to the NHL and earning enough trust from the coaching staff to increasingly take important defensive zone face-offs, has chipped in with a decent amount of offense for getting mostly fourth-line shifts, has shown improved skating, is strong on the puck, rarely makes an egregious error, and has been moved up and down the lineup including second-line ice-time in recent weeks as the Canucks are in the thick of a playoff race.

      Fixed

    • andyg

      If you want a savior then you would need to look in this years draft. That is what a lot of teams are hoping.(including the oilers)

      Most fans hope he is the first of many more to come. Kenins and maybe Gaunce will be next.

    • andyg

      SackOfShat00, why do you enjoy trolling so much? You must be one of those weasels that has nothing else going on in his sad, pathetic world.

      Is there any chance we can ban PieceOfCrap00? His contributions are nil. Not a bright creature at all. Just a troll. Can we put up a poll to ban him?

      Anyway, I do Bolieve. He has made awesome strides and improvements as a 19 year old. It’s too bad a lot of people reading the fancy stats aren’t reading them properly. Ah well. Kids these days 🙂

      • Mantastic

        clearly hes one of the writers of this site and comes on here with negative comments about the team in the hopes he gets a rise out of us.

        its page hits hes going for.

        looks like its working.

        either way hes still a f cking tool

  • Ruprecht

    @Josh

    “When we look at his fancystats, things start to get worrisome.”

    Seriously? Maybe it’s time to take a look elsewhere….like on the ice at number 53.

  • Spiel

    Bertuzzi is a comparable? In what way? They play completely different positions and different styles of game. What method do you use for finding comparables?

    Sometimes you need to look beyond whatever stats you are using…

    • Bertuzzi is a comparable in the sense that he performed at a similar level in junior as Horvat did. If we’re trying to project how a kid is going to perform 5-6 years down the road in the NHL, one way to do it is to examine all the players who had similar careers before they broke in to the NHL.
      Since Bertuzzi and Horvat had similar CHL seasons as 17-year olds, we can reasonably conclude that Horvat has the potential to reach Bertuzzi-level effectiveness in the NHL. He likely will not (Bertuzzi was an elite scorer for a few years there, I’m sure we remember this fondly), but it’s certainly possible. It’s not at all a style-of-play comparison, rather a “this guy became a good NHLer, so Horvat could too” one.

      • Mantastic

        Could we make more relevant comparables using his NHL career? Surely at some point his NHL play becomes more predictive of his future than his CHL career? 19 year old centres with a similar points/shots per 60 or a similar cf%?

      • Spiel

        Ok makes some sense. Still Horvat is touted as a two-way center, and Bertuzzi was never considered that.

        What might be cool is comparing Horvat to the players who people would like Horvat to become (ie. O’Reilly, Bergeron, Kesler) and what they were like at this point in their career. I mean no one expects Horvat to be the next Bertuzzi, but they might expect him to be a Kesler.
        Maybe your comparison does that, maybe it doesn’t. Can’t tell.

  • pheenster

    I’m sorry, but this article fails the eye test in so many ways that I’m not even going to bother starting to list them. It’s pieces like this that make me wonder if some of the contributors at CA actually watch the games, or if they just spend game time playing MasterMind and then head to the stats sites afterwards.

  • islander

    Lots of people complaining about the use of fancy stats missed the portion in the article which stated they probably didn’t matter as much since Horvat is still 19. Yes fancy stats are a valuable tool for discerning how a player is performing and for an established player who is at or near his ceiling it gives us a reasonable expectation as to what to expect from the player moving forward. They don’t meant much for a rookie who we can reasonably expect to improve moving forward, other than a means to track his progress.

    • I completely agree. I think the issue people are having with the article is the lack of “eye test” appraisal, especially since the article states that the stats will not mean a ton for a first year rookie.

  • andyg

    First you had Forsling as a Canucks prospect when he was in the Hawks organization and now you have a full-time NHL player listed as a prospect. Kindly rethink your definitions.

    • Mantastic

      The rankings were done before the trade took place, and they did acknowledge in the article that Forsling was no longer a Canuck prospect.

      Also the definition of “prospect” for this ranking is clearly defined in the first paragraph of this blog, and every blog in this series.

      I know reading is hard, but looking like a dolt for commenting from a position of ignorance is harder.

  • andyg

    I would think that culmulative stats don’t tell a very clear picture of Mr. Horvat because what we are interested in – for any 19-year-old NHLer – their rate of progression.

    I think Bo is progressing quite nicely. Better, in fact, then I had expected him to – especially from an offensive standpoint. I have much more confidence that he will eventually be a top-six forward than I did at the beginning of the season. I also am much more confident that he will reach this ceiling sooner.

    I think I am going to like this guy very much as a 22-year old.

  • Canucksfan3322

    Hey, I’ll be a dissenting voice from the rest of the comments: I thought the article was pretty even-handed!

    I think people might be forgetting that Horvat has really only stepped up in the last month or two. At the beginning of the season, he was pretty invisible, and people mostly focused on his now-regressed faceoff prowess when discussing his play.

    That said, I’m optimistic about his play going forward, especially if he’s allowed to continue hitting the ice with better quality wingers.

  • Mantastic

    people need to understand that Horvat will never drive a line. he has never done that at any level in his hockey career, so that limits his ceiling quite a bit.

    as Roshirai mentioned, playing with much better wingers has helped him out tremendously and will do so for the remained of his career. a Bozak, if you will but drafted in the top 10.

    • I think you and I must be watching 2 different Bo Horvats. It looked like to me he was a solid regular season guy and a very good playoff performer. I think that was a big factor in taking him – plays well during the playoffs. The Canucks were void of those types of players.

      Who are his much better wingers in the NHL? He has been on line 4 with Kenins and Hansen for the most part. Hansen is not a sniper and we’re not sure what Kenins can truly do.

      Just out of curiosity, where do you get your facts that cause you to make your statements?

    • pheenster

      This statement is inane. I am curious as to whether you are actually watching the games at all.

      As for Hansen, if he’s all of a sudden driving play where has that been up until now in his career? People might want to start considering that Hansen’s improvement this year is due to playing with Horvat rather than the other way around.

  • Mantastic

    This article serves as further proof why fancy stats are over inflated dribble.

    When used in the proper context fancy stats can help contribute to the overall picture… when used as the only context u get this.

    Now i remember why i only read Drance articles on this site.

  • Mantastic

    For some reason, Bo Horvat reminds me of Ryan Kesler when he first came up even though they play different games. Both were touted as decent, defensively sound centremen with good size and speed, good in the corners and on face offs, but limited offensive upside. Then Kesler worked like a fiend on his wrist shot and became a solid 2nd line shutdown center who killed you at the other end too.
    Horvat is bigger and stronger than Kesler was at 19, and his skating is surprisingly good for a big guy. If the kid is holding his own just fine at this age he has good things written all over him for when hes 26 with at that point 7 seasons under his belt. It pains me to say it but I like this Gillis pick even if it’s at the expense of Schneider.

  • pheenster

    http://www.hockey-reference.com/play-index/psl_finder.cgi?request=1&match=single&year_min=&year_max=&season_start=1&season_end=-1&age_min=19&age_max=19&birth_country=&franch_id=&is_active=Y&is_hof=&pos=C&handed=&c1stat=points_per_game&c1comp=gt&c1val=0.3&c2stat=points_per_game&c2comp=lt&c2val=0.5&c3stat=games_played&c3comp=gt&c3val=40&c4stat=&c4comp=gt&c4val=&order_by=games_played

    19 year old NHL centres who scored between 0.3 and 0.5 points per game in their first year. Only including active players. Horvat has the highest sh% and the lowest shot rate (although the new NHL stats show his average shot location is pretty close). Some good players here. Barkov, O’Reilly, Coutourier, Monahan, Lindholm and Johansen are recent comparables. He gets a lot less ice time than the rest though.

  • Spiel

    So, I know Horvat has a high personal and on ice sh%…..BUT.

    Out of this group of NHL Cs in their 19 yr old seasons, Horvat ranks THIRD in EV points/60.

    1st. Crosby 2nd. Stamkos 3rd. Horvat!!!! 4th. Toews
    (the rest, in order: Zibanejad, Huberdeau, MacKinnon, Kopitar, Gagner, Duchene, Couturier, Monahan, Tavares, Johansen, Barkov, Nugent-Hopkins, O’Reilly, Lindholm, J. Staal, Bailey, Turris)

    That seems crazy, so someone should probably double check that. There are obviously some qualifiers to go with that – its only half a seasons worth of data (see where he’s at the end of the season) and he has the 2nd lowest EV TOI/GP in that group (and we’re not exactly stacked down the middle).

    Still, if he played every game till the end of the season getting the same amount of EV TOI and didn’t score another point, he’d rank 13th in that list (so between Tavares and Johansen).

    (For comparison Nichushkin scored 1.73 ESP/60 in his 18 yr old season. Horvat’s a year older and is at 2.24. Not a meaningful comparison due to age, position and teammates imo)

    I’m sorry if all that data is wrong and I wasted everyone’s time.

        • Spiel

          Ya, that’s a good call. He looked pretty solid on the second unit yesterday.

          So did you just go through and take their total points and divide it by total TOI for 19 y.o season? This is crazy, and this is really the type of thing that would have been great for this article. Obviously he has been lucky (high sh% plus three assists where he passed the puck from VAN own zone) but his linemates have probably been worse than almost all of those guys on that list.

          Just from watching him, there isn’t anything in his games that screams low offensive ceiling. I mean, him being a 60 point guy just does not seem unreasonable to me. Don’t know if you saw what I posted ^ but his junior #’s are pretty comparable to Getzlaf’s and Johansen’s.

          • Spiel

            Yeah. Found all 19 year old centres who’d scored more than 0.3 points per game with at least 40 games played since 06/07 and then found their es toi and points on nhl.com.

            To be fair to Josh, a lot of Horvat’s improvement – in terms of points, play and possession – has been quite recent and its never a great idea to judge a player at the end of a hot or cold streak. But the fact that Horvat has stuck at NHL level and has deservedly (even if he only got the chance through injuries) moved up our depth chart is pretty significant. There have only been 20 odd 19 year old centres who’ve stuck in the NHL in the last 9 years and almost all of them are pretty great – and the majority were drafted in the top 6.

            All in all, its been a very positive 6 months. His possession numbers are decent (without Dorsett) and his shot rate isn’t anything to be worried about in year 1, especially as he’s had no trouble getting to high % areas. His even strength scoring has been excellent. Definitely exceeded my expectations.

            I don’t know if he’ll match Johansen (who finished with 17 ES pints in 67 games in his 19 yo season) etc., but he doesn’t look out of place with the other 19 year old Cs in any department other than PP production and ice time. In both cases, Desjardins admitting he didn’t want a 19 year old on the roster at all goes some way towards explaining it.

  • Spiel

    As a prospect, what we’re looking for in Horvat isn’t where he’s at at any given time, but that his numbers are consistently improving – and they are, hence why he’s at the top of this list.

    Now if only Kassian and Vey would start showing the same degree of progress in their games

  • Spiel

    I won’t sit here and tell you Bo Horvat is a true talent 19.4% shooter, but he has been incredibly selective with his shots this year. IMO his shot rate is so low because he was timid and lacking confidence for the first 30 games of the season. He would pass almost everything unless he had a clear scoring opportunity.

    Between his good finish and great positioning, he should be an above average sh% guy.

    Also, Bo’s junior numbers are very similar to Ryan Johansen and Ryan Getzlaf’s numbers. Both are slightly better than Horvat’s, but certainly very comparable. From the start, and especially at the start, CA has been lower on Bo Horvat than almost everyone else. One of the somewhat rare occasions where I starkly disagree with you guys.

    I was also disappointed with this article that it didn’t have anything to note about what your eyes tell you. Personally, I have been surprised how good his passing and finish have been. He’s been getting more and more comfortable, and looked tremendous in the last 10 games. His skating has also been impressive.