The Vancouver Canucks are looking to pull off a “hockey deal” if they trade team captain Bo Horvat, The Athletic‘s Pierre LeBrun reported Friday in his weekend rumour roundup.
Horvat, 27, has 21 goals and 30 points in 29 games with the Canucks this season. He’s also in the final year of his contract and is set to command a huge raise on his current $5.5 million cap hit if and when he hits unrestricted free agency next summer.
The Canucks, to this point, haven’t been able to make any leeway on contract discussions with their captain, who they selected back in the first round (No. 9 overall) of the 2013 NHL Draft. The money will be tight: J.T. Miller’s new deal, worth $8 million annually, is set to kick in next season.
While they’re not currently in the playoff picture, the Canucks sit just outside with a 13–13–3 record and 29 points through 29 games this season. According to LeBrun, the Canucks might be looking to swap Horvat for other players in the same age bracket who can help them right now.
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“I assumed the Canucks would be asking for a futures-only package, as selling, retooling teams most often do when they’re dealing with an in-season trade for a pending unrestricted free agent,” LeBrun wrote in his Friday column. “But so far, it seems that Vancouver is looking instead for more of a hockey deal — to upgrade at center ice and/or right-shot defense if possible and bring in a player in the twentysomething age range this Canucks management group has focused on since coming on board.
“First, it tells you that the Canucks don’t feel that competing for a playoff spot this season is far-fetched. And look at the standings. They’re still only a few points back from a wild-card spot,” LeBrun continued. “Second, it could signal the possibility of an acquiring team signing Horvat to a contract extension as part of a trade. That possibility is easier said than done, but if it happens, it would augment the return value for the Canucks.”
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LeBrun also noted that he would “never completely close the door” on Horvat signing a new contract with the Canucks. The London, ON product has 191 goals and 396 points in 601 career games with Vancouver going back to 2014–15; earlier this week, he released a statement through the Canucks indicating he would not make any further public comments about his future as a player.
Horvat and the Canucks will return to action on Saturday to host the Winnipeg Jets at 7:00 PM Pacific.