Predicting Horvat’s next contract

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Photo Credit: Isaiah J. Downing

A few short weeks ago, I suggested that the Canucks would be wise to make inroads on a long-term extension for Bo Horvat post-haste. The Canucks announced not long after that they’d signed Ben Hutton to a two-year extension.

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Following the announcement of the Hutton deal, Horvat was brought up:

Music to many a Canucks fans ears!

It was originally my intention to include a prognostication into Horvat’s new contract in my last article on the subject. Time constraints such as they are, that never came to fruition. So with that, let’s revisit the notion and dive into what Horvat might expect in a new, long-term deal with the Canucks.

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CBA: Impact on Contract

First off, the length of deal is important for Horvat. He will be completing his third full season in the NHL, which means that unrestricted free agency is on the horizon. Article 10.1 of the NHL CBA lays out the ground rules for UFA eligibility:

Screen Shot 2016-11-25 at 1.07.29 PM

Given Horvat’s status, any deal over four years in length is purchasing UFA years. With that in mind, it would serve the Canucks well to avoid a four-year pact as it would be nothing short of a platform to the open market. They can land on any side of that mark, but it’s key they avoid four years. Based on Canucks General Manager Jim Benning’s comments, one would have to believe they’re probably taking the over.

That seems a savvy play in the long run. The short-term cost may be slightly prohibitive, but it has the added effect of mitigating long-term damage. A bridge deal, however, grants the Canucks added flexibility in the interim at the expense of tomorrow. Of course, that operates on the assumption that Horvat continues his ascendency up the NHL stats page.

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Per Article 11.8 of the CBA, the team cannot provide their player a no-trade clause until they qualify for Group 3 unrestricted free agency:

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 12.28.43 PM

This means that a no trade clause or no movement clause cannot be applied to Horvat’s contract until 2021-22. 

Stats

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During Hockey Night in Canada, Sportsnet’s Elliott Friedman mused on Horvat’s oncoming extension and named two players specifically as comparable players to Horvat — Victor Rask and Rickard Rackell. Following up on this, I found that the two jump out as similar players whose contracts might’ve laid the groundwork for Horvat’s. 

They’re not the only players, though. I’ve added some more for comparison’s sake. Players like Aleksander Barkov, Nick Bjugstad, Sean Couturier and Vincent Trocheck came to mind.

All of them signed their extensions at different times, so it’s important to use the stats and cap information at the time. Their deals are below:

Player Term AAV 1st year of deal
Barkov 6 yrs $5.9M 2016-17
Bjugstad 6 yrs $4.1M 2015-16
Couturier 6 yrs $4.33M 2016-17
Rakell 6 yrs $3.79M 2016-17
Rask 6 yrs $4.0M 2016-17
Trocheck 6 yrs $4.75M 2016-17

The common theme here is a series of six-year deals. Given the cost of UFA years, that makes sense.

These contracts range from $3.8-million on the low end to $5.9 on the high end.

Timing matters here. Barkov, Bjugstad and Couturier were all signed in the midst of their previous contracts. Rask, Rakell and Trocheck were signed at the conclusion of their entry-level contracts. It’s also worth noting that Couturier was in the middle of his bridge deal when he signed long term.

Now, it’s time for some numbers. Let’s look at the players P/60 over the last few seasons and see where each stands.

P:60 Horvat

Horvat Rask Barkov Bjugstad Couturier Rakell Trocheck
2012-13 N/A N/A N/A 0.39 1.16 N/A N/A
2013-14 N/A N/A 1.43 2.01 1.52 1.23 1.12
2014-15 1.69 1.22 1.72 1.75 1.36 1.7 2.03
2015-16 1.43 1.48 2.25 1.24 1.96 1.9 2.18
2016-17 2.11 2.08 1.54 0 1.28 2.59 1.27

With the exception of Horvat and Bjugstad, everyone’s contract year was last season. For accuracy’ sake, I’ve compared Horvat’s production this season to theirs last campaign.

P:60 Contract

Contract Year P/60
Barkov 15-16 2.25
Trocheck 15-16 2.18
Horvat 16-17 2.11
Rakell 15-16 1.9
Bjugstad 14-15 1.75
Rask 15-16 1.48
Couturier 14-15 1.36

All this goes to prove that Horvat, on this current career trajectory, is trending towards the upper echelon of the league’s young centres. Rask offers comparable production, but always a year ahead. His 2.08 P/60 matches closely to Horvat’s P/60 of 2.11 this season. Rask, however, is already into his extension, though, whereas Horvat’s in his ELC.

Horvat’s production should command somewhere in the $4-million-plus range. Let’s use HERO Charts too, though. 

Story 1-2

Horvat vs. Trocheck:

Story 1

Horvat doesn’t match well with Trocheck in every category but looks roughly comparable to Bjugstad. Context is key though. Horvat is just starting to hit his stride. It won’t surprise me if he’s surpassed Bjugstad offensively by season’s end. By that same token, Horvat’s underlying data certainly doesn’t flatter.

All that said, we can reasonably posit Horvat lies somewhere between the two players in ability.

Another thing working in Horvat’s favour is his primary point production. Former Canucks Army writer Dimitri Filipovic wrote a piece for Sportsnet on Tuesday, breaking down primary points around the NHL. Horvat was second in percentage with nine primary points in ten on ice goals for in 5v5 play. One might reasonably expect those numbers to regress, but it’s a valuable snapshot into the impact he’s having on driving even strength offence all the same.

It’s also worth noting is the precedent the Canucks set with Brandon Sutter’s deal. Shortly after acquiring Sutter, the Canucks signed him to a five-year deal with an AAV of $4.35-million. Sutter’s career high is 40 points, from the 2009-10 season. Since then, he’s never surpassed 33. Horvat’s already crested the 40 point plateau and is well on pace to break that mark this season.

Comparing the two with P/60:

Sutter:Horvat

Horvat Sutter
2012-13 N/A 1.18
2013-14 N/A 0.94
2014-15 1.69 1.18
2015-16 1.43 1.42
2016-17 2.11 1.36

This pushes the needle closer to $4.5-million per season.

Mitigating Factors  

When we just look at the data, it’s clear Horvat is in the lower range of the $4-million AAV on a six-year deal. But Horvat has a lot of leverage in this situation.

Horvat’s on the upswing regarding production, as evidenced by the P/60 marks highlighted above. The Canucks are also in a sticky situation concerning PR. Can they really afford to let this situation drag out into the summer?

If they can’t sign him long term, who is the options to take his role at centre?

At this moment, the Canucks are okay at centre ice with Sutter, Markus Granlund, Henrik Sedin, Brendan Gaunce and Brendan Horvat. But Henrik won’t be around forever, and they are playing Sutter on the wing, and they could very easily lose Granlund or Gaunce in the expansion draft.

Essentially, the Horvat camp has the advantage over the Canucks, for the following reasons:

  • Canucks have admitted they would like to sign him long term.
  • Horvat has intangibles that the club values.
  • The lack of other options for the organization.
  • The precedent set with Sutter.

A smart representation will see these things and use them to extract as much value as possible from the organization. Given that Horvat’s representation is Newport Sports, it’s an easy conclusion to figure out that they know that have the upper hand here. Elliotte Friedman touched on the subject in this weeks ’30 Thoughts’, mentioning that Newport Sports has a history of waiting it out:

Screen Shot 2016-11-29 at 1.36.09 PM

Conclusion

There have been suggestions that Horvat could get Barkov money, but he isn’t quite there yet. That isn’t to say he won’t get closer to that number if his recent point streak continues.

On the flip side, there have been suggestions that Rakell and Rask are his matches. The evidence suggests otherwise.

Given Sutter’s contract, the price likely starts at $4.35-million per season. If this drags out, and Horvat continues to put up points, he will enter the Trocheck and Barkov area of offensive production, despite his underlying numbers struggling. Using what Friedman mentions, that is likely what happens — the Horvat camp waits out for as long as possible, putting pressure on the Canucks.

Had the Canucks had got a head start on this, it likely would’ve resulted in some savings. But at this point, the Horvat train has left the station, and we can only watch as it chugs along to the sounds of a cash register.

If the Canucks had concluded the deal now, the argument could be made that six years at $4.5M per season, would’ve been the ballpark. Now, if the Horvat deal digs its heels in, and the production continues at the same pace or rises we could see $5-million PLUS per season.

My prediction for the deal is 6 years at $5-million per season, with a no-trade clause for the 2021-22 and 2022-23 seasons.


All data is up to and including games on November 29, 2016.

Contract information from Cap friendly

P/60 data from stats.hockeyanalysis.com



  • Whackanuck

    Lots of research there!

    Man, is this a dig:”Had the Canucks had got a head start on this, it likely would’ve resulted in some savings.”?

    It would make sense if the Canucks had also known the recent surge over 10 games or so was in the cards. Otherwise it would simply have been a gamble. Despite Horvats offensive ascendancy his defensive ability still appears to be unwired. There’s also some risk to Newport and Horvat in waiting that his production will dip as the season progressed. If Bo gets his 4.7 to 5 million and continues his fine play everybody should be happy.

    • SaneCanucker

      Nice article but…

      Horvat has the Canucks over the barrel because ” The Canucks have admitted they would like to sign him long term.”
      Do you actually believe this gives Horvat more leverage? lol Anyone that follows hockey knows the Canucks intentions. wow

      The “precedent set with the Sutter signing.”

      Are you aware that Sutter was about to be a UFA? context is needed with your articles

      • J.D. Burke

        He was providing context. That is organizational context. And based on the length of Horvat’s contract in Biech’s projections, they too will be buying UFA years.

        Readers comprehension, you know?

  • Pat Quinn Way

    For me at the present time, Horvat projects as a second line centre for around 4-4.25 mill per, but with the Canucks (over)paying Sutter, a third line centre on most teams, by so much, I agree with your numbers and can see Bo’s camp demanding 5 mill plus per on a long term deal. Another expensive rookie error here by Benning and co.

    However, thinking about the current Canucks situation moving forward, i hate to admit it, but this team needs to tank and pray for the top draft pick in the lottery.

    It’s a stretch i know, but the reasoning is two-fold. We need a young top line centre to take over from Henrik asap and we also need someone who’s going to put bums back on seats ala McDavid, Eichel and Matthews (our attendance has dipped to 15th in the league from top five since the cup run).

    Secondly, there are no obvious top line centres available in free agency next summer (Tavares says he’s staying put in Brooklyn)
    so Nolan Patrick is the only real option (central scouting likens him to Toews/Getzlaf).

    This gives us Patrick, Horvat, H Sedin, Sutter as our potential four centremen. Pretty damn good in my opinion. What do you guys think?

    • Chris the Curmudgeon

      I think throwing an entire season for a 30% chance at a player who doesn’t seem to have the same world-beating ceiling as other recent top picks is probably a a questionable strategic move.

      Patrick, from what I’ve seen and heard, isn’t a McDavid or Matthews level guy. The team needs more of a plan than that.

      • Pat Quinn Way

        Yes mate, knowing our (bad) luck and with the perceived NHL vendetta against us (the draw mysteriously takes place behind closed doors remember?!) it’s certainly a risk. That’s why i said it’s a reach. Besides which, tanking may not even be an issue by seasons end if we are as bad as the pundits suggest.

        However, the fact remains that we desperately need a young/superstar first line centre and although some say Nolan Patrick isn’t in the same class as McDavid/Matthews, comparisons to Toews/Getzlaf are good enough for me. There’s seemingly nothing available in free agency so what other plan would y’all suggest – Horvat as 1C?

  • EddyC

    I bet it is 4.25 for 6. I know this stat is not the greatest but he was a minus 30 last year and you could say he got thrown in the deep end. Well he had a hard time swimming. I think he is going to be a really good player for us but at the moment he is definitely not Henrik in his prime.

  • Chris the Curmudgeon

    The fact that the team could go “bridge contract” route is more leverage for them than you give it credit for. They could conceivably force a deal with Horvat where he is paid around $3 million per for the next 4 years, a period of time where he could get injured or might not blossom as much as expected. Sure, he may stand to cash in afterwards, but depending on how he looks at that point, it’s hard to predict to what extent. Such a deal for Vancouver also allows them to ride out some of their current cap commitments with the expectation that they will be paying Horvat like a #1C in 4 years. I totally agree that buying up a few of Bo’s UFA years would be preferable for the team, but he’s gotta figure that adding $1.2 million per year now, with extra term, is going to be worth shaving a little value off his potential pay for those first couple of UFA years (after which he will still get to sign a mid-prime big money UFA deal, should he pan out the way people expect). I think 6 years at $4.2ish is more than fair and that Horvat should think so too, considering the alternative.

  • apr

    I think Bo has enough confidence in himself to take a bridge deal and shoot for the moon thereafter. If he can average 65+ points in his bridge deal, he can be looking at 8 years of at least $7.5 million if he hits those targets…

  • TrueBlue

    Well, they could have said “we’re going to re-visit Bo Horvat’s contract situation at the conclusion of the season so that we know exactly what we’ve got”, so I’m still happy they’re starting on it now.

    Barring an absolute explosion (or implosion) over the next month or two, I think your assessment is correct: we can expect between a $4.1-5.3M sort of window depending on term. Now I’m not shrugging off $1.2M in cap space.. that’s one 4th line roster player or a couple of cuspy 13th forward/7th defense men types. But at the same time, the way Horvat is developing year-over-year, I think we’ll be smiling at the future contract for years to come.

    Bonus factor: Horvat doesn’t seem like the kind of player whose compete level and dedication to improvement would be affected by landing a long post-entry-level contract. Even if we do pay on the high end, I think he’ll grow into it sooner than later.

  • Saundero

    I’d love it if they signed him for somewhere between 4-4.5 for 6 years. Sometimes you worry about continued motivation for a player with a long term deal, but I can not imagine that this will be an issue with Horvat.

    Even if he peaks as a 2nd line center, this is a no brainer.

    Hopefully they can get it done…

  • Dirty30

    Ideal would be $4.5 for six years.

    Likely it will fall closer to $5.5 for six as Benning overpays on many contracts (Miller, Sutter, Sbisa, Dorset).

    The one tiny shining light in all this might just be Bo himself — specifically his desire to be the best and be on a winning team — he might take a discount if it means building a better team.

    The Sedins did it, Burrows did it, and if Bo is buying in to the narrative, he might do it.

    • Peachy

      The Sedins, Burrows, Hamhuis, Lou, Edler, etc. all did it, yes, but those happened under GMMG, and came with the very expensive hidden cost of NTC and NMCs.

      GMJB has not demonstrated an ability to ‘sell’ under-market contracts to players based on building a winning team. Granted, it’s mostly not GMJB’s fault – GMMG had a winning team to sell and uh GMJB has this one.

      But as another poster alluded to, GMJB has signed other players to contracts that would make a “value” contract very difficult for Horvat to swallow.

  • Killer Marmot

    This article puts Horvat’s value at $4.5 million, but if I were his agent I would ask for $6 million and settle for $5.5 million.

    Horvat has the Canucks over a barrel. Who are they going to replace him with?

    • Ryan Biech

      I did end by saying that I would expect $5.0M per season.

      He is around $4.5M right now – but due to the additional factors, like as you mentioned, leverage – it’s going to be higher than that.

      • Killer Marmot

        Where we might disagree is why Horvat has leverage.

        It’s not because Benning has tipped his hand. Stating the blindingly obvious does not do harm. Nor, I think, has Sutter’s contract hurt the Canucks bargaining position. $4.375 million a year was not a gross overpayment for someone intended to be a second-line centre.

        It’s because Horvat is the prime piece of real estate in the Canucks rebuilding program which is keeping fans coming back even as the Canucks deliver less-than-average performance.

        Lose him and the club’s long-term prospects change considerably.

  • OMAR49

    I think Horvat has the potential to be a #1 center. He is good in the face-off circle, has good speed and doesn’t lack size or strength. He is not going to be as great a scoring threat as McDavid or Austen (who is) but if he was paired with some good talent we could have an effective 1st line. Remember, the West Coast Express was centered by Morrison who many considered to be a 3rd or, at best, a 2nd line center. The point being you don’t need a superstar to be your #1 center. You need a very competent player, which Horvat is on his way to being, to fill the role. On that basis the Canucks should sign him to a long term contract on the assumption he will be the #1 center. That will probably cost them $5M per year which, in the end, will be worth it.

  • Hooker

    If he’s as good as most of the posters here say he is, he should get 6 for 6, that’s in line with what most of the other young stars in the league are asking and getting.

  • Hockey Warrior

    … and it goes something like this…

    Jim Benning –

    “Hey Bo, how about 4 million a year with bonuses when we reach the Cup final adopting the Boston model I WAS HIRED to EMULATE? I can’t give you more than Brandon Sutter got Horvey because I already said he will be a FOUNDATIONAL PIECE for years to come and I haven’t said that about you… but i still need to justify trading CORY SCHNEIDER for ya so gimme a break here kid. Hell, the twins, Burr and Hansen all re-signed here for cheap, so why can’t you?”

    Bo Horvat –

    “But Jim, I don’t see the FIVE divisional titles, TWO Presidents trophies, Western Conference Championship or STANLEY CUP FINAL run on your Vancouver Canucks GM resume that the previous GM had, so i’ll have to pass. 6 million US and a No trade please… umm, it’s not like you have any leverage here.”

    Jim Benning – “OK Bo, good deal for both parties.”

    **cue tumbleweeds blowing through JB’s office**

    Guys, you couldn’t make it up…. could ya?

  • JuiceBox

    If I were in his agents shoes I would be pushing hard for a 2-year bridge deal in the $4.0M-$4.5M range with eyes set to 19/20 and a long term high dollar value contract in the neighborhood of 6/42 to 6/45 (or more, yikes!). That being said, in his agents eyes he is set to make approx. $36M-$39M over the next 6 years which puts a long term 6-year contract in the $6.0M to $6.5M AAV range. This contract would cover the first two UFA years so I would expect it to be back-end loaded and look something like this: 4.5,4.5,6.0,6.0,7.5,7.5. Anything in and around that value of contract would be reasonable for both parties.

      • JuiceBox

        Everyone seems to agree that his next 2 years are worth $4.5M-$5.0M; the following 2 years are the final 2 years of club control where he is a #1 center and likely captain are worth at least $6.0M; the final 3 years are prime UFA years at $7.0M to $8.0M per year. Over the next 7 years his earning potential is in the neighborhood of $42M-$46M. You are smoking the good stuff if you think his agent is going to accept $35M!

  • Fred-65

    Nice if they could back end load it ie 1st year $3mill, 2nd year $3.5 etc etc 6th year $6

    I’m not sure he’s ever going to be a franchise type player, but good none the less. He has a little bit of Kesler in him ie he makes and finishes plays rather than a player that involves his team mates

  • DJ_44

    Horvat has the Canucks over a barrel? Not at all.

    Your points:

    Essentially, the Horvat camp has the Canucks over a barrel, for the following reasons:

    1. Canucks have admitted they would like to sign him long term.
    2. Horvat has intangibles that the club values.
    3. The lack of other options for the organization.
    4. The precedent set with Sutter.

    In response:

    This is Kypreos logic not real world thinking. What should GMJB be stating? We may not qualify him? We want a 1-yr show me contract? No leaverage was lost with this statement, if anything it results in goodwill.

    He has intangibles and they are part of the players makeup, like talent, work ethic etc. That is what the paycheck is for.

    Point #3: it is what it is.

    4. Sutter was not coming off an ELC. He was going into UFA seasons. I would think that if Bo was in the position, the numbers would be higher regardless. This all assumes that they are overpaying Sutter, which is highly debatable.

    The Canucks also have leverage: they own him for 4 more years.

    In the end, find something that works for both parties with everyone reasonably happy: $4.5 for six, $5.5M for eight.

    • JuiceBox

      “In the end, find something that works for both parties with everyone reasonably happy: $4.5 for six, $5.5M for eight.”

      What is your line of thinking on this? The article just explained that his production alone pushes him to 4.5M RIGHT NOW. In two years time he is probably in the top 10 in NHL centers, and the Canucks captain. In 4 years when his club control ends what do you think he would fetch on the UFA market?

      See my comment in response to sanecanucker above.

      To Horvat and his agents the next two years are worth $4.5M each, the following two years are worth $6.0M and each UFA year is worth $7.0M. They are going to be looking for a contract in the neighbourhood of 5/28 ($5.6M AAV), 6/35 ($5.83M AAV), 7/42 ($6.0M AAV), 8/49 ($6.15M AAV).

      If I’m Jim Benning I go in with a 8 year offer of 46.0M ($5.75 AAV) that is back end loaded and pays $4.5M for year 1 & 2, $5.5M for year 2 & 3, and $6.5M for each of the four UFA years. That contract covers him through his prime and is not so AAV heavy that it restricts the ability of the GM to build a team around him, and when it expires he will still be on the right side of 30 and still able to be traded in the final year if necessary.