Amidst the Jonathan Drouin saga, it’s been rumored that the Vancouver Canucks were offered the young centre in exchange for top-six forward and former 9th overall pick Bo Horvat. The Canucks, evidently, declined, and has resulted in some heated discussion among Canuck supporters. Many deemed the decline of the offer to be ridiculous, while others commended GM Jim Benning for resisting the temptation of moving Horvat. However you may feel about the rumored offer, there are unquestionably pros and cons to the potential swap, and it could easily be argued either way.
While Bo Horvat has developed into a fan-favorite of sorts in Vancouver, it’s hard to deny the high end skill of Jonathan Drouin. Say what you want to about the attitude, but the fact of the matter is that Drouin boasts a much higher raw skill level than Horvat.
The ceiling for Drouin is extraordinary. A first-line, 90-point centerman with an impeccable amount of talent, he could wind up being the Henrik Sedin replacement many have been pining for. As much as fans have grown to love Horvat, as well as other centre-ice prospects such as Jared McCann and Cole Cassels, Drouin brings a different element to the table. In a division that features such talent as Oilers stud Connor McDavid, Flames youngsters Sam Bennett and Johnny Gaudreau, and Coyotes dynamo Max Domi, the Canucks lack a can’t miss game breaker, which could wind up hurting them in the long run.
An arguable comparable would be Dallas Stars centre Tyler Seguin. After some off-ice issues as a member of the Boston Bruins, Seguin benefited from a change of scenery, and has emerged as one of the NHL’s most exciting and dynamic talents, sitting near the top of the league’s points leaderboard. It’s very conceivable that Drouin could follow a similar path to redemption, and up reaching his full potential in the not-so-distant future.
With junior seasons that saw production as high as 108 points in 46 games or 105 points in 49 games, Drouin has as much as upside as any youngster in hockey these days. Whether he puts it together or not is another question, but in terms of pure upside, there’s no denying the value in the 20-year-old forward.
— CanucksArmy (@CanucksArmy) January 26, 2016
As tantalizing as the talent may be, there is also considerable risk in taking on Drouin, the rumored attitude issues being the big one. Considering what the organization went through with Cody Hodgson debacle several years ago, a redo likely isn’t the preferred situation for Benning (despite not being with the club during that time period).
Personal issues with Drouin aside, the team may simply feel that Bo Horvat is a better fit for the Canuck “mold”. With particular emphasis put on a “meat and potatoes” style of play, Horvat’s safe, two-way style of play fits that philosophy better than Drouin’s slick, skill-based ways. Additionally, it appears as if the club has the 20-year-old centre set up to be next in line for captaincy after Henrik Sedin, which, while maybe not a determining factor in a potential swap, certainly doesn’t add anything in regards to helping any sort of trade.
The other factor working against a Horvat-for-Drouin exchange is the fact that Horvat is, at this moment, the better NHL player. While Drouin has (arguably unjustly) struggled to gain any traction at the National Hockey League level, Horvat has established himself as a legitimate top-six forward, centering the Canucks second line alongisde Sven Baertschi and Radim Vrbata. That’s not to say that Drouin isn’t capable of playing NHL hockey – in fact, his 40 points in 89 games is hardly anything to scoff at – but at this moment in time, Horvat is more capable of playing big minutes, and is the more versatile of the two (in that Drouin thrives in a top-six scoring capacity, while Horvat can play up and down the lineup with relative success).
In either case, the arguments are strong. Time will tell what the right call would have been, but for now, we can have fun debating what Canucks management should have done. Do you think Vancouver should have accepted this trade (assuming what’s being thrown around is true)? Or did they make the right call keeping their prized Cory Schneider return? Let us know in the comments!
Markus is a Vancouver Canucks columnist out of Victoria, BC. Markus is also a Staff Writer for Last Word on Hockey, an Editor and Staff Writer for country music website The Shotgun Seat, and founder of This Is Country Music.