Jeff Marek and Elliotte Friedman discussed everything related to the Bo Horvat situation out of Vancouver on Monday’s 32 Thoughts podcast. When it comes to their pending UFA forward, Jim Rutherford met with the media and said, “I believe we’ve taken our best shot. The contract we have on the table for Bo right now is fair value for what he’s done up to this year.” He added, “It’s certainly under market value for what he’s done this year so we’re in a pickle here. He’s had a career year, and he’s looking for his money. He deserves it. I don’t blame him.”
That has led to more talk that the Canucks will be moving on from the player and will try to trade him as the March 3rd NHL Trade Deadline approaches. Marek noted on the show that Horvat could be a long-term fit for the Edmonton Oilers and that the player would be interested in signing there.
As crazy as it sounds, this is leading to all sorts of questions in Oil Country.
Why Would the Oilers Acquire, Then Sign Horvat?
The question many will ask as Horvat is traded is whether the team that acquires him will do so as a rental or with the expectation he will sign long-term. That will change the value in return for any trade if Horvat is moved, especially if he isn’t willing to sign with the team he lands with. The Canucks will get less on that deal, even if the return is still solid.
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As for the Oilers, there is talk that the team would like to add another depth center. Personally, I’ve not seen the need for someone considering the Oilers have Connor McDavid, Leon Draisaitl, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, Ryan McLeod, and Derek Ryan all on this season’s roster. That said, the Canucks are looking to make a “hockey trade” and that could mean salary going back in any deal — something that Oilers would have to look at if they make a trade for Horvat and his $5.5 million cap hit this season. Head coach Jay Woodcroft has also shown a willingness to play centers as wingers as he rolls out his lines. The flexibility of another center on that roster has a nice ring to it.
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Where fans have really taken notice of Marek’s comments is when it comes to the future status of Draisaitl. That is where Marek brings the Horvat conversation up.
Is Draisaitl Going to Be Too Expensive?
Horvat is likely looking for anywhere between $9 – $10 million per season on a long-term deal. Marek noted, “One person mentioned to me on Saturday as well that he could see Edmonton long-term being a fit.” He adds, “One, he is an excellent player. Two, he’d be amenable to going there. Three, who knows about the future of their two big dogs, specifically Leon Draisaitl who is a couple of years away from unrestricted free agency.”
Draisaitl is going to be a $12 million-plus player. The second-leading scorer in the NHL, he’s repeatedly scored 40-plus and 50-plus goals in a season and has a Hart Trophy to his name. He’s on pace for around 130 points and the way salaries will go up and with the cap jumping in a couple of seasons, there is no doubt that Draisaitl will be among the league’s highest-paid players. Marek seems to be asking if the Oilers would prefer substituting Horvat at $9 million (or so) over Draisaitl at $12 million or more per season.
It’s an Insane Timeline for the Oilers
If Edmonton was even contemplating this, they’d need to make a couple of massive decisions quickly. First, they’d need to find a way to trade for Horvat — which would require salary retention and potentially a third team. Alternatively, they’d have to let Horvat be traded to another team and then talk to him over the summer. Second, they’d have to make a decision on Draisaitl, because there’s no way the team can fit everyone in.
McDavid isn’t going anywhere. Nugent-Hopkins is proving he’s one of the best value deals in the NHL right now. Trading Draisaitl seems like the only option unless Edmonton wants to have a $12 million winger (who can play center) and then moves out a plethora of other contracts.