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THE MOJ: Horvat trade looks to be a premature swing and a missed opportunity

Canucks didn’t address their most pressing needs and probably should have waited
Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat skates off the ice after being named the first star of an NHL hockey game against the Columbus Blue Jackets in Vancouver, on Friday, January 27, 2023. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Darryl Dyck

When the Bo Horvat trade was announced on Monday afternoon one thing came to mind.

Lou Lamoriello — the president and general manager of the New York Islanders – is a very smart man.

Lamoriello acquired Horvat from the Canucks in exchange for forwards Anthony Beauvillier and Aatu Raty, as well as a protected 2023 1st round draft pick. The Islanders having the option of keeping the pick if it’s in the top-12 this year. If they do, the Canucks receive the Islanders’ first round pick in 2024.

Looking over the trade, It’s not like Lamoriello sold the farm to get Horvat.

The 25-year-old Beauvillier is in his seventh NHL season with a career-high 39 points in the 2019-20 season.

Raty saw his stock drop in his draft year and wound up being selected in the second round by the Isles in 2021. In his first pro season, Raty had seven goals with eight assists for 15 points with Bridgeport of the American Hockey League this year before being recalled by the Islanders prior to Christmas. In 12 games with New York, he scored twice playing fourth line minutes. The Canucks will assign him to their AHL farm team in Abbotsford.

Neither player is seen as a long-term difference-maker although each has a chance to be a solid contributor.

Then there’s the draft pick, which was conveniently protected should the Islanders suddenly falter and be in on the Connor Bedard sweepstakes.

But there is some other under-the-radar stuff that shows why Lamoriello is so shrewd.

Lamoriello convinced the Canucks to pull the trigger a month ahead of the NHL trade deadline on March 3, which gives the Islanders an additional 12 games of service when it comes to Horvat.

Those 12 extra games could prove extremely valuable as the Islanders are currently on the outside looking in when it comes to the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

Heading into this week’s All-Star break, the Islanders are two points back of the final wild card spot currently being held by Pittsburgh with the Penguins having three games in hand.

Horvat’s arrival could change that – or it might not.

All indications are that Horvat will sign a long-term deal with the Islanders as they have plenty of money to play with relatively speaking. According to, New York has $16.2 million remaining in cap space after this season.

You can pretty much guarantee that the Isles found out what number and term Pat Morris – the agent for Horvat – has in mind when it comes to his client before they made the deal with Vancouver.

Some even believe that a new contract for Horvat is imminent.

But if contract talks do stall, Lamoriello could still go Sonny Weaver Jr. on March 3, and flip Horvat at the deadline and recoup some picks and/or prospects – especially if the Isles fall out of contention for a playoff spot.

Again, it’s unlikely but Lamoriello has given himself some options. Lamoriello has played this one extremely well.

It’s too bad the same can’t be said about the Canucks.

Horvat, who is having a career-year with 31 goals in 49 games, should have cost the Islanders more than what they gave up for him given the timing of the deal but for whatever reason the Canucks complied. Many were surprised that the Canucks didn’t wait it out until the deadline in an effort to drive the price up on Horvat – who was ranked at the top of many trade boards.

The Canucks also erred in that the deal didn’t address a major issue with the hockey club – namely their defensive corps, and in particular, a right-shot defenceman.

The trade does give the Canucks some additional depth on the wing and another move could be coming in which the defense is addressed but for now it’s status quo on the blue line.

Another concern I have is that Beauvillier is still on the books at $4.1 million through 2023-24, so it’s not like a lot of cap space was cleared in this transaction.

I know that many were satisfied with the return but I think those are the same individuals who view Horvat as a perennial 20-goal scorer.

If you view him as the eighth-leading goal scorer in the NHL, maybe your view on the return changes.

This was an opportunity to acquire a prospect or draft pick that could be a cornerstone for a rebuild, retool or whatever Canucks management wants to call it.

We will find out in time whether or not it was an opportunity missed or whether the Canucks strike gold with that draft pick or perhaps even Raty.

Veteran B.C. sports personality Bob “the Moj” Marjanovich writes twice weekly for Black Press Media. And check out his weekly podcast every Monday at Today in B.C. or your local Black Press Media website.

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