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Contract uncertainty could keep Horvat from World Championship

Bo Horvat hasn’t heard from Hockey Canada about a possible roster spot for next month’s World Championship yet. But even if he gets the call, the Vancouver Canucks scoring leader will likely have to take a pass on the opportunity.

As a pending restricted free agent and without contract certainty for next season and beyond, the 21-year-old isn’t likely to risk any sort of catastrophic injury that could jeopardize his ability to sign a lucrative multi-year contract. As such, Horvat’s hockey season will likely end on Sunday night in Edmonton.

He could explore private insurance as an option, but it’s more likely he will sit tight to protect his ability to cash in on what could be a deal similar to Florida’s Vincent Trochek’s six-year $28.5 million dollar contract ($4.75 million annual average value) signed last summer.

“That’s something I’d have to talk about with my agency about and see what they think is best,” Horvat said after the final morning skate of the season on Saturday at Rogers Arena. “I’m not really sure what’s going to happen (with the contract) and how it’s going to work out.”

Horvat admits he has had no contact with anyone from Hockey Canada as general manager Ron Hextall begins the task of assembling the team that will compete in Paris, France and Cologne, Germany starting on May 5th. Hextall has yet to name a coaching staff for the two-time defending world champs, but reports have Colorado teammates Matt Duchene and Nathan MacKinnon along with Winnipeg’s Mark Scheifele already committing to the program. The remainder of the roster should be filled out shortly as the NHL regular season winds down.

With 20 goals and 30 assists in his third National Hockey League season, Horvat’s play would certainly merit consideration for a spot on the national team. And given the way the season has spiralled in Vancouver, the idea of playing meaningful hockey in May appeals to Horvat.

“I haven’t heard from them yet, but I’d take that call,” he says of the chance to wear the maple leaf on his chest as he did in the 2014 World Juniors. “I’ve always enjoyed playing for Hockey Canada obviously representing my country so I think it would be a fun opportunity.”

Horvat’s teammates Chris Tanev and Ben Hutton both won gold medals for Canada at last year’s tournament in Russia.

With just two games remaining in the 2016-17 NHL season, Horvat’s priority will soon turn to getting a new deal done with the Canucks. He’s says he’s not worrying too much about the negotiations and will leave the bargaining to his agents. However, he says this summer will be another reminder of the heights his hockey career has taken him. And that’s why he simply can’t afford to risk his future just to extend this season.

“It’s the business part now,” he says. “You don’t want to go over there and injure yourself before a contract, so hopefully things can get done a little quicker and I’ll get that call.”

Interesting. Perhaps, Horvat knows more than he’s letting on if he thinks a new deal before the Worlds begin is a possibility.