Ranking all seven trade suitors for Bo Horvat based on both assets and Stanley Cup potential
Photo credit:© Bob Frid-USA TODAY Sports
4 days ago
The Bo Horvat sweepstakes have begun to heat up over the last few days, and it’s entirely possible that a trade is closer than we all think.
On the latest episode of the 32 Thoughts Podcast, Elliotte Friedman and Jeff Marek laid out the six front runners and a wild card team who are most likely to land the Canucks’ team captain.
Those teams are, in alphabetical order, the Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Colorado Avalanche, Minnesota Wild, New Jersey Devils, Seattle Kraken, and the wild card Tampa Bay Lightning.
All seven of these teams have varying amounts of cap space, draft picks, and top prospects to use to get Jim Rutherford and Patrik Allvin’s attention. They also each present very different degrees of potential playoff success.
Through no fault of his own, the Canucks have had very little success at even making the playoffs during Horvat’s tenure. But when Bo was presented with the opportunity to play postseason hockey, he absolutely ran with it every time.
Add in all the great work he’s done as a captain and leader of the team throughout his time in Vancouver, and it seems only fair that any trade the Canucks make puts him in as good a chance to win a Stanley Cup as possible. And that’s where we come in.
This list is going to be a little different than most you’ll see at the moment. Rather than focusing solely on which team can make the best trade offer for the Canucks’ top scorer, we’re also going to take into account which of these seven have the best shot at getting Horvat to the promised land this season and potentially beyond.
Let’s dive in.
7. Tampa Bay Lightning
Why they’re a good fit: As one of the most dominant franchises of the last decade, there’s plenty for Horvat to like about the Lightning. Paired in a system with Steven Stamkos and Nikita Kucherov, Horvat would be able to play a supporting cast role for the first time in ages.
The Bolts even have quite a few of their draft picks still to deal to keep their Cup Final streak intact, although their firsts in 2023 and 2024 are already spoken for at the moment.
Why they’re a bad fit: There’s simply no way they have the cap space for a contract extension on the way for Horvat. That hasn’t stopped them before, but it does probably limit the return they’d be willing to move if Horvat ends up walking.
They also have next to nothing in the prospect cupboard. Going to three straight Stanley Cup Finals will do that.
6. Minnesota Wild
Why they’re a good fit: The Wild have the cap space to add pieces (for now) and more than a few top-notch young talents worth picking up. 22-year-old Calen Addison is a right-shot defender with 22 points on the Wild blue line, while recent first-rounders Liam Öhgren and Carson Lambos would both make for strong trade targets.
The Wild are also very much under the gun to make playoff strides now. With massive cap recapture penalties on the way next year thanks to their buyouts of Zach Parise and Ryan Suter, the Wild are going to be forced to trim a lot of fat before 2023-24.
If Minnesota is going to make a real Cup push anytime in the next few years, now is their one shot. And Bo Horvat would certainly give them a lot more legitimacy.
Why they’re a bad fit: Because of that looming cap crunch the Wild are only looking for rentals, and they probably wouldn’t want to pay a premium price for half a season of Horvat. The odds of them parting with an Addison or Öhgren are slim if they intend on parting with Horvat in free agency.
5. Carolina Hurricanes
Why they’re a good fit: The Canes have a decent mixture of youth and have carved out a rock solid core without sacrificing too much draft capital to put it together.
They also have an immediate hole to fill in their roster. Max Pacioretty was meant to be a big part of their playoff push, but after the news on Friday that he’d suffered yet another right Achilles tear, the Canes are suddenly in the market for forwards again.
The Canes are usually willing to part with a first rounder if there’s a player that fits their needs available, but the odds of the Canucks getting a young roster-ready player like Seth Jarvis with it are extremely low.
They also have the cap space on the way to give Horvat the contract extension he’s looking for, once Jordan Staal’s $6 million AAV comes off the books.
Why they’re a bad fit: There’s very few high quality prospects around in Carolina for the Canucks to choose from. 20-year-old college blue liner Scott Morrow might be an interesting name to look at, but he’s not an NHL lock.
The Canes’ front office also has a knack for winning trades, which means even if you are able to pry a Seth Jarvis away from them, you’re wondering what the catch is.
4. Colorado Avalanche
Why they’re a good fit: Talk about the rich potentially getting richer.
Horvat would essentially join the Avs as a delayed replacement for Nazem Kadri. It all depends on just how desperate for more offence the Avalanche are.
The nice thing about the defending Stanley Cup champions compared to the teams above them is that they have at least a few good prospects and the Canucks would likely want to target a return centred around a Bowen Byram or an Oskar Olausson.
Why they’re a bad fit: The only reason the Avalanche aren’t a bigger deal in the Cup conversation is the reason they’re largely in the running for Horvat in the first place: injuries.
One of those long-standing injuries is to Byram, who’s dealt with a number of ailments in his first few NHL seasons. Taking him as the centrepiece in a return for Horvat is a pretty big risk with that injury history in mind, despite just how good he is when he’s healthy.
The Avalanche do have their first rounders across the next three seasons still in hand, but considering they don’t have another pick until the fifth round this year, they might be cagey about giving away their only draft choice before then. Maybe you can work out a conditional deal that slides to 2024?
3. Boston Bruins
Why they’re a good fit: Do I really have to tell you?
The Bruins are clearly Horvat’s best shot at a Stanley Cup this year, and with so much depth behind Patrice Bergeron and David Pastrnak already in their lineup, he wouldn’t be relied upon as the be-all, end-all in the scoring department.
Considering all the horrible teams Horvat has been stuck on during his Canucks tenure, it’s hard not to want to see him go to a bonafide winner and get his shot at a legit deep playoff run. Plus with the possibility of Bergeron retiring next season, Horvat might be able to take on a major role if he signs a contract extension.
Why they’re a bad fit: Because they’re the Bruins, for starters.
But more importantly, having such an extended run of success as they have means the prospect pool is already slim pickings. Outside of former Vancouver Giant Fabian Lysell, there are very few top prospects 20 years old or younger that have the upside worth moving Horvat to get.
Plus, any draft picks you acquire from the Bruins in the upcoming draft are bound to be late rounders. Is drafting 27th or 28th overall enough of a return for your leading goal scorer and team captain?
2. Seattle Kraken
Why they’re a good fit: The Kraken have a LOT of assets at their disposal, and as the current Pacific Division leaders, they’re more than poised to make a trade deadline splash.
Out of all the teams on this list, there’s no one more willing to part with a real game changing piece for Horvat than the Kraken. Has Bo’s 30 goals moved the needle enough to warrant trading a name like Shane Wright? If the Kraken are desperate enough to solidify their place in the Seattle sports scene right now, he just might have.
Seattle also has a boatload of draft picks at their disposal and the cap room to sign Horvat long term. The Kraken make the most sense as a trade partner for the Canucks on so many levels.
Why they’re a bad fit: One word: Geography.
If the city of Seattle was suddenly lifted out of the earth and dropped onto the coast of the Atlantic Ocean, they could easily win the Horvat sweepstakes in my mind.
But is historically territorial Canucks ownership willing to sign off on trading the captain to a division rival, let alone the first true geographical rival in franchise history? It’s doubtful, no matter how hefty the potential trade package from the Kraken could be.
1. New Jersey Devils
Why they’re a good fit: The Devils have draft stock, they have cap space, and they have a fanbase itching for some playoff success. That’s why as they sit second place in the Metropolitan Division, they look ready to deal.
They’ve also been playing the lottery game for such an extended period of time that there’s lots of good prospects they could part with to add some veteran stability in Horvat. The big name that the Canucks would likely be targeting? Last year’s second overall pick, Slovakian defender Simon Nemec.
The Devils also have a slightly less heralded young defenceman in 2021 first rounder Shakir Mukhamadullin. Either of righty-shot Nemec and left-hander Mukhamadullin would each fill a different, but equally dire, organizational need.
There’s also a 19-year-old winger in the Devils’ stable with a first round resume and a connection to the Canucks already; Chase Stillman, Riley Stillman’s younger brother. Maybe the Canucks can complete their brother combo before the Devils do.
Why they’re a bad fit: Let’s be honest, they’re probably not getting Simon Nemec for Horvat. But it can’t hurt to try.
The Devils are also an unproven team when it comes to playoff hockey, but with the talent at their disposal, it feels like just the beginning of great things to come.
We’ll just have to wait and see.
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