In a recent article for the Toronto Sun, Nick Kypreos wrote that hockey fans should “keep an eye on the Detroit Red Wings” if the Vancouver Canucks shop Bo Horvat at this year’s trade deadline (from ‘Leafs are more than halfway through the John Tavares contract. Was it worth it?’, Toronto Star, 10/27/22). Kypreos noted that the undetermined future of Dylan Larkin in Detroit is the reason behind it, as the Red Wings captain is seeking a deal similar to Mathew Barzal’s eight-year, $73.2 million contract. It’s certainly an intriguing prospect to think about it, but even if they can ink Larkin to an extension before the deadline, I believe that the Red Wings general manager (GM) Steve Yzerman should make a push for Horvat as well.
If an extension with Horvat can be in place following the hypothetical blockbuster, Detroit would sport one of the best one-two punches down the middle in the sport. Furthermore, they have cap wiggle room to make this come to fruition both in the present and future. Keep in mind, several of their most expensive veterans are only signed for one or two more seasons. However, acquiring Horvat would cost a lot, as he is a legitimate top-six center who is lighting up the league right now (10 goals and 13 points in 11 games). If an extension is finalized, I believe a first-round pick (top-10 protected), two notable prospects, and a young NHL-caliber forward would be needed to allow a deal to occur. Let’s look at who the Red Wings could part ways with to help this massive trade come to fruition.
When the Red Wings selected Filip Zadina with the sixth-overall pick of the 2018 NHL Entry Draft, they believed they were getting a potential star winger. However, at the time of this writing, he has not taken that next step and is noticeably struggling in 2022-23. After recording a 24-point campaign in 74 games last season with the team, he has zero points and a minus-3 rating in eight contests. It’s certainly been an underwhelming start to the season, and it makes me wonder if the Red Wings would be willing to trade him given their strong depth at left wing.
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Truthfully, I think a change of scenery could benefit Zadina immensely. Sometimes former top prospects can thrive in new situations, and I wouldn’t put it past the Canucks to express interest in him. He’s still only 22 years old, so he has plenty of time left to grow his game. He also has had past success at the NHL level before, as he had 15 points in just 28 games for the Red Wings back in 2019-20. On Vancouver, he’d be in a position to play middle-six minutes and receive power-play time, so I do see a potential match here.
Zadina is signed to an affordable three-year, $5.475 million ($1.825 million cap hit) as well. If can improve his play and develop into a top-six winger, his contract would become a complete and utter steal. With all of this, he is a player who the Canucks should surely consider taking a chance on in a Horvat trade.
Jonatan Berggren has raised his value as a prospect immensely over the last few seasons. After recording a 45-point campaign in 49 games for Skelleftea AIK of the Swedish Hockey League (SHL) in 2020-21, the 22-year-old winger made the move to North America. Since then, he has been nothing but excellent, as he had 21 goals and 64 points in 70 games for the Grand Rapids Griffins last season. He has remained hot this campaign as well, scoring three goals and recording an assist in his first four games.
Berggren has the potential to blossom into an excellent point producer at the NHL level, so the Canucks would naturally have him on their radar in a move centering around Horvat. If he continues to develop at the pace he has been, he could be ready for the NHL as soon as this season and potentially compete for a spot in Vancouver’s middle six. Furthermore, he offers strong versatility, as he is capable of playing on both wings. Overall, this is exactly the kind of prospect that the Canucks would love to have.
A major reason for the Canucks’ rough start to the 2022-23 season is their defensive group. This has been an ongoing issue for Vancouver for quite some time now, and they, unfortunately, have not been able to find an answer to it. The future of their back end does not look particularly impressive at this time, either, as Jack Rathbone and Jett Woo are arguably their only prospects of note. With that, they parted ways with Jonathan Myrenberg to acquire Jack Studnicka from the Boston Bruins. Therefore, Vancouver would certainly demand a top defenseman prospect in a deal for Horvat, and William Wallinder stands out.
Unfortunately, when you trade for a star, you have to give up something big in return. There’s no question that moving Wallinder would be a tough pill to swallow for Red Wings fans. The 6-foot-4, left-shot defenseman has the potential to blossom into a top-four defenseman at the NHL level and is making notable progress with his development. The truth is in his statistics. After recording 19 points in 47 games with Rogle BK Angelholm of the SHL last season, he already has four goals and 11 points in just 15 games this season. If he keeps this kind of play up, the 20-year-old could be NHL-ready as soon as next season.
I can’t see any scenario where the Canucks would not demand a top defensive prospect in any move involving Horvat. With that, there’s no way that Yzerman would trade Simon Edvinsson, so Wallinder would be next in line.
Another top prospect who I could see moved in a deal for Horvat is Marco Kasper. It certainly would make sense for the Canucks, as the 2022 eighth-overall pick is also a center who has the tools to become a future top-six forward at the NHL level. Like Wallinder, he is also playing quite well with Rogle BK this campaign, as he has three goals and 10 points in 15 games. This is immensely impressive when noting that he had just 11 points in 46 games with the SHL squad last season. With all of this, his value as a prospect is rising, and he would surely get the attention of Canucks GM Patrik Allvin in a Horvat trade.
If Kasper continues to play this well moving forward, one could argue that he could be ready for the NHL as soon as next season. However, it may be more realistic for him to make the jump to the NHL in 2023-24, as he is still just 18 years old and has other areas of his game he must work on first. Still, even if Vancouver had to wait a bit for his arrival, it is apparent that he has the potential to take over Horvat’s top-six spot later down the road.
Alas, it will be intriguing to see if the Red Wings and Canucks can strike a major trade this offseason. If they do, it would not be surprising to see Wallinder and one of either Kaspar or Berggren sent the other way. With that, Zadina seems like the most logical NHL player to be moved given his young age and potential upside. No matter the case, this will be something fun to pay attention to as we get closer to the deadline.