As the 2022-23 season continues, it appears more and more likely that the Vancouver Canucks and Bo Horvat will end up parting ways. While neither party has completely ruled out the possibility of a contract extension, Elliotte Friedman wrote in his latest 32 Thoughts blog that things haven’t been trending well, and shortly thereafter, Rick Dhaliwal of Donnie and Dhali said that the 27-year-old recently rejected a contract offer from management.
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While having to likely move on from their captain isn’t ideal, the good news for the Canucks is that if they do indeed trade him, the return should be quite significant. In a contract year, Horvat is having the best season of his career, having already scored 21 goals and 30 points through 29 games. Just one season prior, he set himself a new career high with 31 goals, a total that he should have no problem surpassing in 2022-23.
As for other teams, there are plenty of reasons to consider making a trade for Horvat. He is a proven point producer who is good in his own end and plays center, a position in which several teams are always looking to improve in. On top of all that, his cap hit of $5.5 million is extremely reasonable for a player of his caliber. Here are three trading partners that would make a ton of sense for the Canucks to negotiate with.
The Minnesota Wild are a team that could desperately use some help up the middle right now, as their currently listed top two centermen are Sam Steel and Frederick Gaudreau. No disrespect to those two, but you’d be hard-pressed to find anybody who wouldn’t agree that Horvat is far more talented. Adding him to the lineup could help replace some of the skill lost this offseason when the Wild chose to deal Kevin Fiala to the Los Angeles Kings.
Horvat would immediately provide a significant boost to Kirill Kaprizov, a player who already has an outstanding 17 goals and 36 points in 29 games. You can bet he and several teammates would be thrilled with Wild general manager Bill Guerin if he were able to acquire the Canucks forward.
What makes this deal even more intriguing is that the Wild have a player they could send back to balance things cap-wise in Matt Dumba. The pending free-agent defenseman is reportedly being shopped around and could fit in well with a Canucks team that could use an upgrade on their blue line. That said, the Canucks would likely be wanting a prospect and/or draft pick in this scenario as well, though if Dumba is willing to re-sign, that may help shift the tide a little.
It seems that the main team some of the biggest insiders around are discussing as the top option is the Colorado Avalanche. At the moment, they have just over $5 million in cap space, though that doesn’t include Gabriel Landeskog and Darren Helm, who are on long-term injured reserve (LTIR).
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While things would have to be balanced out cap-wise, the top target the Canucks would be looking to get back is Bowen Byram. As mentioned, their blue line is lacking, and bringing in the very skilled 21-year-old Byram would help improve it quickly.
It may take some wise negotiating on the part of the Canucks to add Byram, as the Avalanche have been very high on him since selecting him with the fourth overall pick back in 2019. That said, given GM Joe Sakic’s extreme desire to help his team win a second straight Stanley Cup, Canucks GM Patrik Allvin should do his best to remain patient here, as being able to bring in Byram would be a fantastic move for his club.
Columbus Blue Jackets
Of the three options on this list, the Columbus Blue Jackets will certainly seem the most outlandish, given that they currently sit 30th in league standings. That said, this is a team that, despite the frustrating beginning to their 2022-23 campaign, has had some promising changes as of late.
The biggest of those changes was the signing of free agent Johnny Gaudreau this summer, who shocked the world by agreeing to a seven-year deal with the Blue Jackets. Of course, this deal would only occur if Horvat were to agree to an extension, but having the option to play with Gaudreau on one wing and Patrik Laine on the other may prove to be enough to convince him.
The Blue Jackets do have the money to make this deal work, as Zach Werenski is out for the season, meaning his $9.58 million price tag will remain on LTIR. They also have plenty of great prospects, including defenseman Denton Mateychuk, who was selected 12th overall earlier this year. If negotiations do pick up with the Blue Jackets regarding Horvat, the Canucks should be doing everything they can to ensure Mateychuk is coming back the other way.
Canucks Need to Get This Deal Right
At this point, it feels more like a matter of when, not if, in regards to a Horvat trade occurring. That said, this one may still take some time to play out, as the Canucks need to ensure they are maximizing their return. This is an organization that is in a low spot right now, as it felt like just a few short years ago, they were on the verge of becoming a contender. Simply put, they need to be sure that they get an excellent return in any potential Horvat deal. Anything less will only alienate this frustrated fanbase even further.