The 2018-19 NHL season is fast approaching and the hype is rising. For Vancouver Canucks fans, it will be a season that puts the team’s future in perspective and the rest of the league should be wary. Bo Horvat and Brock Boeser are leading the youth charge — the league got a taste of the duo’s prowess last season but injuries prevented what might have been.
Bo Horvat is the Real Deal
After four seasons in blue and green and following the retirement of Henrik Sedin last season, Horvat has been labeled the Canucks’ future captain. The 23-year-old has the confidence, maturity and poise of a 15-season veteran and plays with consistency in all facets of the game.
“Bo is a really important player for us and does a lot of important things,” Canucks winger Sam Gagner told NHL.com. “He plays on both sides of the puck; he was on the first power play unit, he plays on the penalty kill, takes important face-offs, so I’m sure he’s going to continue to grow into that role.”
His 200-foot game paired with his offensive skill makes Horvat one of the top centers in the NHL. He may not have received the credit yet but mark my words, he will soon enough.
To paint a picture of his gifts in the offensive zone, compare his stats through four seasons to the two best Canucks of all time: Daniel and Henrik Sedin. After the twins’ first four seasons in the NHL, Daniel logged 61 goals and 90 helpers for 151 points in 315 games while Henrik put up 44 goals and 102 apples for 146 points in 318 games. In 295 games, Horvat has 71 markers and 90 assists for 161 points.
The twins were able to feed off each other phenomenally during their careers to elevate their play. Horvat has just recently found his perfect comrade: Brock Boeser.
Brock Boeser: Coming in Hot
Boeser, the Burnsville, Minnesota product wasted no time in making a strong impression. In his first 71 NHL games, he found twine 33 times and helped out on an additional 27. He was rewarded with an appearance in the 2018 NHL All-Star Game and was voted a finalist for the Calder Trophy.
Like Horvat, Boeser was held back by the infamous Canucks’ injury bug. Many believe that had it not been for his wrist injury, he would have won the Calder. He is now recovering from a back injury suffered in early March that was caused by a borderline hit from New York Islanders’ forward, Cal Clutterbuck (though many consider it a cheap shot).
“It was hard, especially because I love the game so much and I never want to miss any games,” Boeser told Sportsnet. “But I’ve got to look at the other side of it. I am pretty lucky because that injury could have ended my career, honestly.”
Regardless, the league saw what this young man was capable of: he is a pure sniper with an unteachable gift to find open ice and capitalize on opportunities.
“He just goes out and plays, doesn’t overthink things and finds ways to create chances and score when he gets them. I talked to him a bit this summer; he’s healthy and getting ready to get back to it,” Gagner told NHL.com.
Fans are hopeful that Gagner’s words are true and Boeser is ready to bounce back. After recording 27 points in his first 30 games, it was clear that he was ready for the big leagues but he chalks up a lot of his early success to the guidance of the Sedins and Horvat, as he told the NHL Network back in November of 2017.
Horvat’s guidance has blossomed into chemistry and a dynamic partnership with Boeser that is a handful for opponents.
Boeser and Horvat 2018-19
The 2018-19 season, as previously mentioned, is a very important one for the up-and-coming Canucks. Boeser and Horvat are expected to lead the way and dominate offensively. With the Sedins out of the picture, more pressure is on the young duo to make an impact particularly on Horvat, who is expected to contribute offensively and pick up some of the leadership-slack that has been left by the twins.
Expectations should be managed wisely for the young load-bearers but if they can stay healthy, they should be able to contribute a minimum of 30 goals each. Playing top-line minutes and manning the team’s top power-play unit (that was good last season and has only improved) should equate to a lot of offensive production. Also, sharing some ice with a talent like Elias Pettersson, should he make the roster, will undoubtedly spell trouble for the rest of the league.
“I think it’s important to have young guys grow into those roles and push veteran players to be better,” Gagner said. “It’s obviously a different animal when you get to the NHL level, but we saw what Boeser was able to do this year and we got a little taste of Gaudette at the end of the year and we’ve got some more guys coming up like Pettersson. The list really goes on. It’s an exciting time to be a Canuck and I think for us as veteran guys, we come in ready to go and we’re ready to lead the way.”
How good do you think Boeser and Horvat will be in the 2018-19 season? Let me know in the comments below!
Matt is a longtime fan, player and student of the game of hockey. Broadcast and Online Journalism student at the British Columbia Institute of Technology.