The best, worst, and likeliest outcomes of the blockbuster Bo Horvat trade
Photo credit:© Dennis Schneidler-USA TODAY Sports
10 months ago
The waiting is over.
The negotiations are complete.
All other suitors have been notified.
Yes, Bo Horvat has finally been traded from the Vancouver Canucks, and the New York Islanders are the official winners of the sweepstakes.
In exchange for an as-of-yet un-extended and 25% retained Horvat, the Islanders sent back prospect Aatu Räty, a conditional 2023 first round draft pick, and winger Anthony Beauvillier.
Unfortunately, with most of the return coming back to Vancouver of the future-based variety, at this point we can only speculate. Below, you’ll find what we feel to be the best, worst, and likeliest outcomes for each of the pieces the Canucks acquired.
The winner of this trade will likely be determined by which of these scenarios actually come to pass.
Räty is just 20 years old, in his first full season in North America, and only two years out of the draft. So why does everyone talk about him like he’s already a bust?
Probably because Räty spent the bulk of his teen years being hyped up as a “Next One” destined to go first overall in a future NHL draft. However, as his draft date approached, Räty began to slip down the rankings, and ultimately wound up going 52nd overall in 2021.
Best-Case Outcome: That talent still has to be in there somewhere, right? At this point, we feel safe in saying that becoming the Finnish Sidney Crosby is no longer on the table for Räty. But perhaps a move to a new organization and greater opportunity at the NHL and AHL levels is what he needs to reignite the offensive production that seemed to disappear as he got closer and closer to the draft. We wouldn’t exactly call him a ‘late bloomer’ yet, but that’s the sort of idea we’re going for here.
Räty’s fundamentals and all-around game have developed well, and he still projects as a quality NHL player at both ends of the ice. Just a little bit more oomph in his development, and the Canucks could be looking at a dominant two-way top-six center with size, playmaking, and play-driving ability.
That’s certainly something worth getting excited about.
Worst-Case Outcome: Let’s be blunt here. Räty hasn’t developed nearly enough yet to say that he’s for sure going to make it. He is sitting on a grand total of 17 points through his first 29 AHL games, and while that’s fairly reasonable for a first year pro, it’s not exactly encouraging.
Simply put, it’s still entirely possible that Räty busts as a prospect, and either never makes it to the NHL full-time or meanders around as a fourth line-type.
Nothing would put a sour spin on the Horvat trade quite like this outcome.
Likeliest Outcome: As always, the likeliest answer is somewhere in between the extremes. Räty looks to be on a decent track to develop into a strong 3C at the NHL level; the kind that could play in the top-six on a contending team, but is ideally part of a deeper center core. He’s a capable puck-chaser who has been used in shutdown and matchup roles in the past, albeit at lower levels.
In the long-term at the NHL level, Räty could fill a role not unlike the one Horvat played for the Canucks, but with higher-quality defense and significantly less offense.
In other words, he could wind up being the player many expected Horvat to become before he developed into something else altogether.
Conditional 2023 First Round Pick
The first round pick coming back from the Islanders comes with conditions. If the pick falls within the top-12 of the 2023 NHL Entry Draft, it will automatically slide to a 2024 first round pick. That selection would be unprotected, meaning the Canucks would get it no matter how high it landed.
Best-Case Outcome: Since we’re dreaming here, let’s dream big. 13OA is the best the Canucks could get this year, but what if the Islanders continue to be on the outside of the playoff picture looking in? If the pick winds up in the top-12 and slides to 2024, that could be great news, because New York isn’t set up for much success next year, either. If they finish poorly enough in both 2023 and 2024, the Canucks could very well wind up with a lottery pick.
Maybe Horvat walks as a UFA, and the Isles have to watch all season long as the pick they traded to Vancouver for him looks better and better. That would be fun.
Worst-Case Outcome: If Horvat manages to lead the Islanders on a decent playoff run, the 2023 first round pick would wind up being very late, and thus less valuable. But that’s not actually the worst-case outcome.
The true worst-case outcome would be the Islanders tanking enough this year to slide the pick, and then succeeding next season, resulting in a late 2024 first rounder going back to the Canucks.
One late first rounder might seem as good as the next, but the 2023 draft class is considered to be stronger and that player would theoretically arrive sooner. Ergo, a late 2024 pick is the least desirable outcome.
Likeliest Outcome: As of this writing, the Islanders are slotted to draft at 14OA. The most likely outcome is that they only move up or down a spot or two, leaving the Canucks with a selection somewhere between 13OA and 17OA.
For a draft as deep as 2023 purports to be, that should result in a high-quality prospect. It’s certainly a better pick than most suitors for Horvat would have been able to offer.
Despite being just 25 years old, Beauvillier is already in his seventh season for the Islanders. During that time, he’s been an up-and-down offensive winger renowned for his speed and skating.
Best-Case Outcome: Perhaps a change of scenery is what Beauvillier needs after all this time on Long Island. Beauvillier did score at a 25ish-goal pace in both the 2019/20 and 2021/22 seasons. He’s scored just 21 total goals since then, but slumps are meant to be bumped.
If the Canucks move out another winger or two, Beauvillier will get a shot in the top-six and on the power play, and that could be all he needs to get his scoring back on track. If he does that, the Canucks could flip him for a profit as soon as this upcoming Trade Deadline. He’s also young enough to possibly fit into the long-term picture if he gets on particularly well in Vancouver.
Worst-Case Outcome: Beauvillier’s scoring has gone into such a sharp decline over the past two years that it’s entirely reasonable to assume that it will never recover. If that’s the case, at a $4.15 million AAV he’s an overpaid sub-20-goal scorer without much else in his game, still signed for another season beyond this one.
Canucks fans know what to call that: yet another cap dump waiting to happen. If there’s one thing the Canucks don’t need, it’s another winger making too much money.
Likeliest Outcome: It’s probably fair to expect at least some level of rebound out of Beauvillier. That’s partly due to a change of scenery, partly due to a progression back toward his career average, and partly due to the likelihood of increased minutes as Vancouver deals away more top-six forwards.
If the Canucks can get a little more offense out of Beauvillier for the rest of this season and a little bit of the next one, he suddenly starts looking like a decent trade chip. Beauvillier does have a pretty solid history of playoff success, so he could be a sought-after option at the 2024 Trade Deadline, and even more so at half-retention.
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