Welcome to ‘Bo-A-Palooza’.
In the next few days, you’re going to hear and read and cheer and jeer about Bo Horvat.
The former Vancouver Canucks captain makes his highly-anticipated return Wednesday with the New York Islanders and the troops are already amassing along the debate wall.
Good trade? Bad trade? Treated fairly? Treated poorly?
“I thought I was going to be a Canuck for life,” was Horvat’s exit lament via Zoom. “I’m not going to lie. It wasn’t easy, with everything that went on, and the unknown for my family and people asking me what’s going to happen. It was a lot.”
Whatever your take on his departure, after being purposely groomed by Henrik and Daniel Sedin to assume the captaincy, peeling back the trade layers reveals a bigger question.
It’s more than J.T. Miller getting the extension money over Horvat.
And it’s not so much that Horvat got his money elsewhere — the pending unrestricted free agent pocketed a massive eight-year, $US68 million commitment less than week after his Jan. 30 — it’s more about what the Canucks received to help them now and down the road.
As they say in snooker, it’s not what you make, it’s what you leave. You may make a shot, but don’t leave a decisive one that can affect the overall outcome.
In that respect, the trade was a mixed bag. Acquiring winger Anthony Beauvillier was hope for the present, prospect centre Aatu Raty represents the future, and that conditional 2023 first-round pick that went to the Detroit Red Wings to land Filip Hronek, was prudent.
And if Raty, who turns 21 on Tuesday, plays in the NHL at some point it’s a trade bonus. He had eight AHL points (3-5) through 13 games this season with Abbotsford.
“We did prioritize a young centre or defenceman back for Bo,” said Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin. “We felt strongly that Raty was a key piece in this deal.”
What about Beauviller?
He has six points (2-4), 29 shots and a minuscule 6.9 per cent shooting percentage through 15 games. Upon arrival, he was inserted into the top-six mix and given every opportunity to lose that “streaky scorer” label that sticks like gum to his shoe.
On an alignment with Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko, he had four goals and six points in his first seven outings and two game-winners.
However, when the goals didn’t come — including just two in his final 16 games — it was either playing through a nagging ailment, or something simply missing.
Beauvillier has had good looks this season, but is that enough? He’s on an expiring contract at a $4.15 million salary cap hit that’s palatable for a productive player and trade fodder at the deadline — if there’s interest.
“I feel like our bottom six has done a good job creating energy,” said Beauvillier. “Getting pucks into the offensive zone and sometimes it’s just a little puck luck. I like some parts of my game and I’ve just got to keep working on it. The scoring chances have been there.”
Here’s what the Canucks face this week:
Islanders at Canucks
When and where: Wednesday 7 p.m. | Rogers Arena
TV: SN Pacific | Radio: Sportsnet 650
Why watch: Cheers or jeers for former captain?
You never know what the reaction will be when Horvat steps on the ice. You’d think respectful for nearly nine seasons here, a pair of 30-goal seasons and dealing with captaincy demands. After all, just two playoff appearances here are not his fault.
Who to watch: Centre Bo Horvat
Horvat missed a game last week after blocking a shot, and when aligned with speedy Mathew Barzal and Simon Holmstrom, there’s production potential. Horvat has 10 points (4-6) through a dozen games, is 50.5 per cent in the faceoff circle, and leads club forwards with 10 blocked shots.
Canucks at Flames
When and where: Thursday at 6 p.m. | Scotiabank Saddledome
TV: SN Pacific | Radio: Sportsnet 650
Why watch: Can Canucks light early fuse?
The Flames have issues with their unrestricted free agents and have won just two of their last 10 games. They’ve surrendered 18 first-period goals through 14 — the fifth highest — while the Canucks scored 19 through 14 games — fifth most. Being ready and starting fast is a Rick Tocchet ’staple.’
Who to watch: Defenceman Quinn Hughes
Last season, he bettered his franchise records for assists (69) and points (76) in a season by a blueliner and was second in NHL helpers, seven back from front-runner Erik Karlsson. But he was held to just one assist and seven shots in four games against the Flames.
Kraken at Canucks
When and where: Saturday at 7 p.m. | Rogers Arena
TV: Hockey Night in Canada | Radio: Sportsnet 650
Why watch: Has this become a new rivalry?
The Canucks went 2-2-0 against the surging Kraken last season, but the I-5 rivalry might lose some lustre because the Canucks are off to a hot start. Seattle has become the hunted and not the hunters after upsetting Colorado in first round of the playoffs last spring.
Who to watch: Winger Jared McCann
It’s like a broken record here, but repeating McCann’s dominance is like a trade scab you keep picking at. He has 11 points (4-7) in his last 10 games against Vancouver. He had nine points (6-3) through his first 15 games this season.
Recommended from Editorial