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Top Trades, Landing Spots for Canucks Center Bo Horvat

Lyle Richardson

After struggling through the first two months of the 2021-22 season, the Vancouver Canucks won 32 of 57 games under new head coach Bruce Boudreau and narrowly missed the playoffs. They entered this season hoping to build on that performance but are 2-5-2.

The Canucks already made a move to bolster their blue line by acquiring Ethan Bear from the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday. But trade rumors in the opposite direction could dog the club if it fails to improve in the coming weeks.

Team captain Bo Horvat could become the prime target of that conjecture.

The 27-year-old center is in the final season of his contract, which carries an average annual value of $5.5 million and lacks no-trade protection.

A skilled, hardworking two-way forward and leader who is strong in the faceoff circle, Horvat has reached or exceeded 40 points in six of the last seven seasons. He will draw plenty of interest if he hits the open market as an unrestricted free agent next July.

Horvat will also be in line for a significant raise. On October 3, CHEK-TV's Rick Dhaliwal noted Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman suggested the Canucks captain is comparable to the Philadelphia Flyers' Sean Couturier, who's earning an annual cap hit of $7.8 million on an eight-year contract.

The Canucks had contract-extension talks with the Horvat camp during the offseason. In September, TSN's Pierre LeBrun observed those discussions had been quiet for most of the summer. On Oct. 27, the Toronto Star's Nick Kypreos reported hearing the Canucks captain rejected a lowball offer that wasn't close to what comparable centers are making.

Horvat could get moved if the Canucks continue to falter through November and December. Here are five potential trade destinations and what it might cost to acquire him. Feel free to weigh in with your thoughts in the comments section below.

Carolina Hurricanes

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Led by Sebastian Aho, Andrei Svechnikov and Teuvo Teräväinen, the Carolina Hurricanes pack a potent offensive punch. However, they have a potential weakness on their second line where Jesperi Kotkaniemi is struggling to fill the center role following Vincent Trocheck's departure via free agency to the New York Rangers.

If Kotkaniemi fails to improve, Hurricanes general manager Don Waddell could go shopping for help. With a projected $8.6 million in trade-deadline cap space, he has sufficient room to make a significant addition. Waddell also has a recent trade history with the Canucks, having shipped Ethan Bear to them Friday.

Horvat could be an excellent fit as the Hurricanes' second-line center. He has the offensive skills to mesh well alongside wingers such as Svechnikov, Seth Jarvis and Martin Necas plus his defensive abilities would make him a solid addition on the penalty kill. He'd also provide them with an additional boost to their leadership.

Waddell could be willing to part with his 2023 first-round pick, as it's likely to be near the bottom of that round. He could also attempt to include Kotkaniemi in the deal, but the Canucks could prefer a prospect defenseman such as Scott Morrow or Alexander Nikishin as part of the return.

Detroit Red Wings

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After several seasons of rebuilding, the Detroit Red Wings could finally be ready for playoff contention. With $5.5 million in projected salary-cap space and $21.9 million in projected trade-deadline cap room, they can afford a major addition such as Horvat before March 3.

Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has patiently built his club with promising talent. However, he also made significant free-agent additions this summer in David Perron, Andrew Copp and Ben Chiarot. Yzerman has also made bold trades such as acquiring Jakub Vrána at the 2021 trade deadline and Alex Nedeljkovic during the 2021 offseason.

The Wings are using Copp as their second-line center, but the versatile forward can shift to the wing to make room for Horvat. His leadership, all-around play and faceoff skills would make him invaluable as a rental player. They also have the cap space if they wish to re-sign him in the offseason, depending on how things go with captain Dylan Larkin's contract talks.

Yzerman also has depth in young talent to draw upon as trade bait. He could offer a first-round pick or both of his second-rounders packaged with a quality prospect. The Wings GM won't part with promising Simon Edvinsson, but perhaps Marco Kasper or William Wallinder would be acceptable to the Canucks.

Minnesota Wild

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The Minnesota Wild enjoyed a franchise-best 113-point performance in 2021-22. They're off to a shaky start this season but have plenty of time to regain their footing. If they're among the top contenders in the Western Conference by the trade deadline, general manager Bill Guerin might consider adding a rental player to improve their chances for a deep playoff run.

Depth at center is an issue. They used Ryan Hartman as the first-line center in 2021-22 but he's now a third-line winger. Frédérick Gaudreau is centering the first line, but the 29-year-old has spent most of his career in a checking-line role. Promising Marco Rossi is in the second-line spot for now, but it's unclear if he can handle those duties.

The Wild have a projected trade-deadline cap space of $14.4 million. Horvat could prove a tempting trade target for Guerin, as he'd be an improvement over their current first-line center options. His strength in the faceoff circle would make him a welcome addition to their power-play and penalty-killing units.

Guerin could be unwilling to move his 2023 first-round pick, as he's already parted with his third-rounder. Maybe he could be talked into giving up his 2024 first-rounder. The Canucks could also ask for a promising defenseman such as Calen Addison or right-shot prospect blueliner Brock Faber.

New York Islanders

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A lack of scoring punch has plagued the New York Islanders since John Tavares left town in 2018. From 2018-19 to 2021-22, their 2.75 goals-per-game average was 24th overall. They're showing improvement through the early going of this season with a 3.50 goals-per-game mark, but they could still use more depth among their top-six forwards.

Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello was reportedly interested in signing free agent forwards Johnny Gaudreau and Nazem Kadri this summer to bolster his scoring. A rumored deal for Canucks forward J.T. Miller was said to have fallen apart during the first round of this year's draft. Perhaps Lamoriello would be interested in Horvat after missing out on Miller.

Brock Nelson fills the second-line center position, but he could be shifted to left wing on the first or second line to make room for Horvat. The Canucks captain's two-way game would make him a solid fit with the Islanders. With $13.4 million in projected trade-deadline cap space, they can afford to take on Horvat's full $5.5 million cap hit.

The Islanders could offer their first-round pick in 2023 or 2024 and bundle it with a young player or a prospect. Winger Oliver Wahlstrom could interest the Canucks if they're in rebuild mode or perhaps a promising center such as Aatu Räty might be to their liking.

Ottawa Senators

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Hoping to become a playoff contender following several years of rebuilding, the Ottawa Senators could be in the market for a center with Josh Norris out for perhaps the season because of a shoulder injury. They do have options to replace him in Claude Giroux, Shane Pinto or Derick Brassard. Still, general manager Pierre Dorion could keep his eye on the trade market.

Horvat could be a terrific rental option for the Senators if they remain in the playoff chase. He'd bring an additional level of veteran leadership and could center Giroux and Alex DeBrincat, giving them a potent second line few clubs can match.

The Senators have $4.6 million in current cap space and a projected $18.1 million in trade-deadline space. If necessary, they could place Norris and his $8 million on long-term injury reserve to free up cap room to take on a salaried player such as Horvat.

Given their depth in young talent, Dorion could be willing to move his first-round pick if his club is assured of playoff contention this season. The Canucks could seek prospect Ridly Greig as part of the return.

Stats (as of Oct. 28, 2022) via, salary info via Cap Friendly, lineup combinations via Daily Faceoff and prospect info via The Athletic's 2022-23 NHL Pipeline Rankings.


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