Bruins Have the Assets to Acquire Canucks’ Bo Horvat

In a recent piece for Daily Faceoff, NHL insider Frank Seravalli listed the Boston Bruins as a potential landing spot for Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat. Seeing how well they have been playing, it makes sense that they are already linked to big-name trade candidates like him. Although the Canucks have had a rough season in 2022-23, the 27-year-old center has simply been dominant, as his 17 goals and 23 points in 21 games show effectively. Adding this kind of offense to the Bruins’ already-excellent roster would be massive, but it would also take a lot for it to have any chance of coming to fruition.

Bo Horvat Vancouver Canucks
Bo Horvat, Vancouver Canucks (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

First and foremost, the Bruins cannot be buyers until they figure out their current salary cap situation. Once Derek Forbort is activated off of long-term injured reserve (LTIR), they will be over the cap and need to make a move. Mike Reilly has become the team’s biggest trade candidate because of his reported wish to be moved, along with his $3 million cap hit. Once this situation is all squared away, then the Bruins can set their sights on a star like Horvat.

In the meantime, let’s look at what it might cost the Bruins to acquire him.

Craig Smith

Craig Smith is another obvious trade candidate for the Bruins, and he could be a player added to this deal to help things work financially. Due to Nick Foligno finding his old form and the acquisitions of Pavel Zacha and A.J. Greer, his role on the team’s depth chart has dropped off significantly. This has resulted in the 33-year-old winger being a healthy scratch multiple times this campaign, so it seems possible that he would also be open to a change of scenery.

Craig Smith Boston Bruins
Craig Smith, Boston Bruins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

The Canucks could very well be interested in Smith because of his recent past success. Although he has just three points in 12 games this season, he also recorded a 36-point campaign in 74 games last season. Thus, while playing at his best, he is somebody who can contribute decent solid secondary scoring in a third-line role. On the Canucks, it seems probable that he could fit well in their middle six and on their second power-play unit. This increase in playing time could also be enough for him to find his previous scoring touch as well.

If the Canucks acquired Smith a little before deadline day, he also could become a trade candidate for them if he heats up following a hypothetical move. This, in turn, could lead Vancouver to get a decent return for him as well.

Trent Frederic

Trent Frederic is another Bruin who certainly could grab the attention of Canucks general manager (GM) Patrik Allvin. The 24-year-old is arguably playing the best hockey of his career this season, as he has three goals, three assists, and a plus-9 rating. Although those offensive numbers are not necessarily jaw-dropping, the St. Louis native has been far more effective defensively this campaign. With that, the Canucks could use a bit more bite in their lineup, and Frederic provides plenty of that with his physical style of play.

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When noting that Frederic is still quite young, there’s reason to believe that we still have yet to see the best of him. As he continues to gain NHL experience, it seems possible that he could become a bigger force offensively. Yet, a change of scenery may be needed to spark that, as it is rather unlikely that he will ever land a top-six role while on the Bruins because of their immense forward depth. Therefore, perhaps a move to a rebuilding team like Vancouver could result in him taking that next step in his development.

At worst, Frederic would be a serviceable third-line winger for the Canucks who provides decent defensive play and physicality. However, if he improves his all-around game with Vancouver, he could become a major part of their roster later down the road.

Brett Harrison

The Canucks are likely going to seek a center prospect in any move centering around Horvat. When looking at the Bruins’ prospect pool, the most obvious prospect who Vancouver would likely make a push for is Brett Harrison. The 6-foot-2 center has been developing well in the Ontario Hockey League (OHL) and has the tools to blossom into a middle-six forward at the NHL level later down the road. Thus, this is exactly the kind of player that the Canucks should be looking at.

Brett Harrison Oshawa Generals
Brett Harrison, Oshawa Generals (Josh Kim / The Hockey Writers)

After recording a 61-point campaign in 65 games with the Oshawa Generals last season, Harrison has nine goals and 14 points in 15 games this season. Overall, it’s encouraging to see that the London, Ontario native can produce at nearly a point-per-game pace in junior, but there’s much more to his game than just offense. He has been heavily praised for not only his physicality and tenacious forechecking, but also his strong defensive play. As a result, he has the potential to become a very solid two-way center at the NHL level.

Since Harrison is playing with the Generals this season, he would not be able to join the Canucks this campaign if acquired. However, given how well he is playing in junior, he would have the potential to compete for a spot in their bottom six as soon as next season. In the long term, he could become Vancouver’s second-line center if he hits his full potential.

Mason Lohrei

It is not a secret that the Canucks’ biggest weakness is their defensive group. It is the primary reason why they have struggled so much this season, so it seems rather likely that they would want a top defensive prospect in any hypothetical Horvat trade. When looking at the Bruins’ system, no prospect stands out more than 2020 second-round pick, Mason Lohrei.

Lohrei has raised his value as a prospect significantly, as he has been excellent with Ohio State University since joining the team in 2021-22. After recording an impressive 29-point campaign in 31 games as a freshman last season, he currently has 11 assists in 16 games this year. It is clear that the 6-foot-4 defenseman is capable of creating plenty of offense from the point, but he also provides much more than just that. The Wisconsin native has been noted for playing a very heavy game and more importantly is quite reliable in his zone. Overall, all of these tools make it seem very likely that he will blossom into a top-four NHL defenseman in the future.

Mason Lohrei Green Bay Gamblers
Mason Lohrei, seen here with the Green Bay Gamblers (Jenae Anderson / The Hockey Writers)

Similar to Harrison, Lohrei would not be able to join the Canucks immediately after being traded. However, after his collegiate season ends, he would have the chance to join Vancouver if he elects to begin his professional career. If this came to fruition, he would be in the running to play bottom-pairing minutes upon his arrival. However, in the future, he would have a legitimate chance of playing on their top pairing.

Along with these assets, the Canucks would likely seek the Bruins’ 2023 first-round pick and 2025 second-round pick in a Horvat trade. This is especially true if they retain some salary and an extension is finalized along with the move. With Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci reaching the final stages of their careers, it would be wise for the Bruins to make a big push for Horvat. Let’s see if Bruins GM Don Sweeney aims to acquire him before the deadline from here. If not, he should be the Bruins’ primary free-agent target this offseason.

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