The 2023 NHL Trade Deadline was one of the busiest in recent memory. A lot of contending teams made splash additions and All-Star-level players were moved throughout the week of the deadline. The trade that started things happened during the All-Star Break when the New York Islanders acquired Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks.
Related: Horvat Has Made Immediate Impact for Islanders
The trade was a shock at the time and had massive implications for both the Canucks and the Islanders. Both teams were heading in opposite directions but the move has set them both up for success both this season and for the foreseeable future. Rarely does a trade appear like a win-win deal but after two months, the Canucks and Islanders look like they have both benefited immensely from the Horvat trade.
Horvat Turns Islanders’ Season Around
The Islanders were in a downward spiral and were watching their playoff hopes slip away when they acquired Horvat. They concluded January with a 4-8-3 record and their offense was one of the worst in the league, scoring only 1.93 goals per game in the month. Horvat added a much-needed spark to the roster and catapulted the team back into playoff contention. Since the All-Star Break, the Islanders have gone 12-5-3 and have leaped from sixth place in the Metropolitan Division to fourth and in control of the top wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
Horvat is known as a goal scorer, with only five goals since being traded but 36 on the season, yet he has been more than just that for the Islanders. He leads the top line and helps create scoring chances for the rest of the skaters on the ice. Before Mathew Barzal was placed on injured reserve, his skillset was unlocked as he had a star player centering his line. Likewise, the Horvat-led line has often been the one creating scoring chances as he draws skaters in, allowing his linemates to find open ice in the offensive zone.
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Along with his offense, Horvat has been one of the most impactful players in all three zones. He has won 58.1 percent of his faceoffs, the most among centers on the team, and is one of the best puck-handling forwards as well, allowing the Islanders to control the pace of play when he is on the ice. Moreover, Horvat has been one of the best defensive forwards on the team with 0.5 defensive point shares, 22 blocked shots, and a strong forecheck in the offensive zone.
Horvat has not only turned around the Islanders’ season but will also remain an essential part of the roster for years to come. Shortly after he was acquired, he signed an eight-year extension with the team. At 27 years old, he will spend the prime of his career on the Islanders and will be a pillar of the roster, along with Barzal, defensemen Ryan Pulock and Adam Pelech, and goaltender Ilya Sorokin.
Canucks Add a Scorer at a Cheap Price
The Islanders traded Anthony Beauvillier to the Canucks as part of the deal to acquire Horvat. With only 21 games in a new setting, it’s clear that he has found a home and is seeing his career take off. He has seven goals and nine assists and is thriving on the wing, playing alongside Elias Pettersson. He failed to find a role in the Islanders’ top six but the Canucks have allowed him to become a reliable shooter and also create scoring chances for the other skaters on the ice.
At 25 years old, Beauvillier is a young skater and entering the prime of his career. He also is under contract for next season at a reasonable price, costing the Canucks only $4.1 million, making him a valuable addition for a team looking to compete next season. Moreover, he has established himself as a top-six forward who will play a significant role in helping turn the Canucks into a contender.
In Hindsight, The Canucks Return Was a Strong One
At the time Horvat was traded, the perception was that the return was underwhelming. After all, they only received Beauvillier, a prospect in Aatu Raty, and a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft for arguably the best player on their team. However, as the trade deadline unfolded, the return looked stronger, especially as other elite players were traded.
The San Jose Sharks moved Timo Meier, arguably the best forward traded at the deadline, to the New Jersey Devils in exchange for four skaters and three draft picks. However, the Sharks only received one first-round selection in the deal and the players received weren’t any of the Devils’ top prospects or consistent starters. Likewise, the Chicago Blackhawks traded away Patrick Kane, the face of their franchise, to the New York Rangers for only two draft selections and a prospect. The final big move at the deadline saw the Ottawa Senators acquire defenseman Jakob Chychrun from the Arizona Coyotes for three draft picks but only one in the first round.
The Canucks were early sellers in the trade market, which was a risky decision, especially since they could have waited for a stronger offer closer to the deadline. However, the decision ultimately left them with a strong return, especially for a rental player. Horvat was playing in the final year of his contract and the Canucks couldn’t afford to re-sign him and instead managed to trade him for a respectable return.
Canucks & Islanders Are Set Up for Brighter Futures
The Canucks moving Horvat allowed them to effectively start a retool. They have the players to contend with Pettersson, J.T. Miller, and Andrei Kuzmenko leading the forward unit while Quinn Hughes leads the defense but they needed to add more complementary players. The big trade along with the rest of the moves at the deadline allowed the Canucks to do just that.
The Islanders meanwhile are ready to compete this season and are hoping to win the Stanley Cup. The Horvat addition made them one of the best teams in the league and added a much-needed spark to the roster when they desperately needed it. General manager (GM) Lou Lamoriello was quiet in the offseason and failed to add a star player to the lineup but with the season and possibly his job on the line, he made a splash. The Islanders responded after that and they once again look like a contender in the Eastern Conference.