Over the past nine years, Bo Horvat has made himself a fan favourite in Vancouver. The ninth overall selection in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, Horvat has blossomed from a good — but certainly not considered great at the time — prospect into the team’s captain. This past season, he broke the thirty-goal mark for the first time in his career, an impressive feat for the London, Ontario native.
With just one year left on his contract, it’s time for the Canucks to take a serious look at the player that Horvat has become and start to figure out an extension. The Canucks are in a cap crunch but it’s clear that locking up their captain long term is near the top of the list of priorities.
“We had good discussions with him [Horvat] after the season. We believe he should be a part of the team going forward,” said Jim Rutherford on Donnie and Dhali – The Team.
There were 21 centres in the NHL last season (as defined by NHL.com) who scored at least 30 goals. The Canucks had two of them on their roster in Elias Pettersson and Horvat. Does Horvat’s goal-scoring outburst mean he’s a player the Canucks can count on to be a first-line centre and if so, what does that mean for his next contract?
Is Bo Horvat a first-line centre?
To win a Stanley Cup, your team needs to be deep down the middle. On paper, the Canucks have a few good centremen in Pettersson, Horvat, Jason Dickinson, and J.T. Miller who can play down the middle. While each player has their deficiencies, the position group is solid and has the possibility to be elite if everyone played to their potential.
While Pettersson is a great player and still growing, he doesn’t yet project to be that typical first-line centre that can eat minutes and take on tough defensive matchups. For the Canucks, Horvat is a better fit in that traditional mould of a centreman who can contribute in all the different areas of the game.
Offensively, Horvat’s numbers look good because of the high goal total. However, it must be noted that much of his impact comes as the trigger man on the team’s top power-play unit. Of those 21 centres that scored at least 30 goals, he was one of just six that didn’t have a positive goal differential at even strength.
While Horvat developed a reputation as a strong defensive player early in his career, his numbers have started to slip in recent seasons. There are factors working against him here, namely the tough competition he faces and the heavy minutes he plays, but you would like to see the Canucks control play better while he’s on the ice at 5-on-5.
While Horvat was on the ice at 5-on-5, the Canucks allowed 32.83 shots per sixty minutes. This was the worst mark of any regular forward. These were also high-quality shots as Horvat allowed 2.63 expected goals against per sixty minutes, once again the worth mark of any Canucks forward.
It’s pretty clear that Horvat isn’t that top-line, do it all centre that is crucial to the traditional model of a Stanley Cup contender. However, with a checking centre behind him and Elias Petterson growing to be more comfortable in the middle of the ice, the Canucks could replicate that production through a platoon.
What might Horvat’s next contract look like?
Horvat isn’t going to touch the top-tier of centres on this extension, but he is certainly due for a raise. His current deal that’s expiring next offseason saw him earn an annual average of $5.5 million. There’s no chance that he’s going to be signing for that after his 30-goal season, so the only question is: how big will the raise be?
Taking a look at comparable players, it seems as if the number will likely be somewhere in the high $6 million to low $7 million range. At 27 years old, Horvat’s going to be looking for a contract that offers him some serious financial stability as this could easily be the largest payday of his career.
He’s likely not going to command more than the $7.35 million Pettersson got last offseason but he will likely come very close. Other centres in that range include players like Kevin Hayes ($7.14 million), Brayden Schenn ($6.5 million), and Ryan O’Reilly ($7.5 million). Horvat’s true value likely lands somewhere in between Scheen and O’Reilly.
Of course, there’s always the chance that Horvat takes a slight discount to help the Canucks out. He is the captain and has a great relationship with the city and organization. However, he doesn’t owe that to the team in the slightest and banking on that is likely wishful thinking.
How much do you think Horvat’s extension will be worth? Let us know in the comments section below!
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