The New York Islanders and Vancouver Canucks have made the first blockbuster trade and the biggest splash of the season thus far. With five weeks left until the NHL Trade Deadline, the Islanders acquired Canucks star forward Bo Horvat in exchange for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty, and a conditional 2023 first-round pick. Horvat is in the final year of his contract but is having a career year, with 31 goals and 23 assists, which made him one of the top players on the trade market.
Related: Canucks Acquire Beauvillier & Raty From Islanders For Horvat
This is the move the Islanders needed to salvage their season. They entered the All-Star Break with a 25-22-5 record and a 4-8-3 record since their Jan. 1 game against the Seattle Kraken but this move allows them to compete in the Eastern Conference. Horvat is a star-caliber player that can help turn the Islanders’ offense into one of the best in the league and put the roster over the top.
Islanders Add a Star Scorer
Horvat adds a lot to an offense that looked hapless entering the All-Star Break. The Islanders were averaging 2.85 goals per game on the season but only scored 1.93 goals per game in January with 22 goals in their last 13 games. The last time they scored three goals or more in a game was Jan. 16 in a 4-3 loss to the Washington Capitals. The offense needed a goal scorer and Horvat can provide them with one as he looks to build on a 31-goal season.
The Islanders have playmakers in Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson but needed a goal scorer that could complete the offense. While Anders Lee has 19 goals and 16 assists as one of the team’s best finishers, the Islanders needed another forward that could both create and finish scoring chances. Moreover, Horvat is a power play threat, scoring 11 of his 31 goals on the man advantage and he will immediately upgrade a unit that is only scoring on 15.54 percent of their power play opportunities.
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The question is where will the Islanders play Horvat? As a center, his addition to the forward unit will require either Nelson or Barzal to move to the wing to make room for another forward in the top six. The most likely scenario is Barzal playing on the same line as Horvat, pairing the Islanders’ best passer with their new top scorer. However, the next few weeks will likely see first-year head coach Lane Lambert shuffle the top two lines to find the ideal combination for the remainder of the season.
Canucks Receive a Respectable Haul
The Canucks return for Horvat was Beauvillier, Raty, and a conditional first-round pick in the 2023 NHL Entry Draft which is protected if the Islanders’ selection is in the top 12. Beauvillier is a 25-year-old with a high upside and great speed off the wing but in his seven years in the NHL, he’s been heavily dependent on the center he plays alongside. Raty, meanwhile, is the big piece the Canucks are receiving as he can become an elite center that impacts the game in every facet, including defensively. He was the Islanders’ top prospect and a difficult player to move on from, but one they were willing to trade for a top player like Horvat.
It could be argued that the Canucks sold low on Horvat. They had multiple weeks to search for the best deal and only received three pieces in return. Moreover, they didn’t improve their defense, which allows 3.92 goals per game and is among the worst in the NHL. That said, with the Canucks entering a re-tool these were the ideal pieces to receive. Beauvillier is a young forward entering the prime of his career and his skill set, notably his puck-handling and speed, makes him a great building block. Additionally, Raty has the potential to be an elite center for the foreseeable future and if he hits his ceiling, he could become one of the best players in the league. If general manager (GM) Patrik Allvin decides to use one of his two first-round draft selections on a defenseman, the team could suddenly transform into one of the best in the Western Conference in a few seasons.
The Islanders meanwhile gave up a lot of pieces, including the top prospect in their system, for a potential rental. However, with the team in a win-now mode and a roster that is veteran-heavy, they needed to make an aggressive move. The Islanders have a core in place that is looking to compete for the Stanley Cup. While the season has been a disappointment so far, the addition of Horvat allows them to return from the All-Star Break with high hopes.
Lamoriello Finally Makes a Splash
Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello didn’t make any big moves in the 2022 offseason. The team needed a goal scorer and could have acquired J.T. Miller in a trade or signed Johnny Gaudreau or Nazem Kadri in free agency. With the Islanders struggling, the silence from the offseason put the GM on the hot seat. A team that missed the playoffs in 2021-22 looked poised to once again put together a disappointing season and put into question the decision-making in the front office.
With a few weeks to spare until the trade deadline, Lamoriello finally made a big move, one that signals that this team is all-in on this season. After years of staying quiet and not making blockbuster deals, Lamoriello finally made a move that could help turn around a season that was in a downward spiral. Additionally, if the Islanders can re-sign Horvat, they will add another key piece to a contending roster for years to come.
What’s Next for the Canucks & Islanders
The Canucks have made it clear that they will be sellers at the trade deadline with the Horvat trade. With a 20-26-3 record, they already fired head coach Bruce Boudreau and replaced him with Rick Tocchet, and trading Horvat only further signals that they won’t be contending this season. While they aren’t rebuilding, this move means that they are ready to start moving on from the other veterans on their roster. All eyes will now shift to Brock Boeser, who is a free agent at the end of the 2024-25 season and can bring the Canucks a strong return in a trade if he is moved.
The Islanders have made the move of the season but are still far from competing at the moment. They have a 25-22-5 record and are in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division, leaving them on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture looking in. However, they have a lot to forward to when they return to the ice and the expectation is for them to kick off the second half of the season running. Along with the top priority of turning the season around, they also must extend Horvat to keep their new star player on the roster.
For the rest of the NHL, the Horvat deal is a sign that the biggest moves are just around the corner. He is the first domino to fall and now a lot of teams will be focused on putting together the right offers to acquire the other stars on the trade market. Timo Meier, Patrick Kane, and Jakob Chychrun are suddenly front and center in the NHL trade rumors as they are the remaining players that can put a contending team over the top.