While there’s been near-weekly reports about the Vancouver Canucks and Bo Horvat growing further apart in extension negotiations, it seems Monday’s update might be the nail in the coffin for Horvat’s future in British Columbia.
TSN’s Pierre LeBrun added to a report from CHEK’s Rick Dhaliwal that Horvat rejected an offer from the Canucks “a couple of weeks ago,” saying the team is now entirely focused on Horvat’s trade market between now and the March 3 deadline.
Speculation will now be entirely focused on potential destinations and, more so for Canucks fans, possible return packages.
It’s a foregone conclusion that the Canucks would ask for a high-end defense prospect as the centerpiece of any Horvat trade.
The 2023 NHL Draft, while stacked, is weak with defensemen, especially near the top. For the team’s most significant area of need, trading for an already-drafted defenseman will likely spark the team’s pool of young players.
Trading for Ethan Bear helped in the short-term for Vancouver, who was bleeding goals against early in the season. But it doesn’t solve the issue that Jack Rathbone, a 95th overall pick, remains the organization’s top prospect on defense.
When you think of contenders looking to add at center at the deadline, you think of the Colorado Avalanche. It does make sense that they would have an interest in Horvat when the time comes, but whether there’s a trade fit there is less certain.
Considering Bowen Byram is likely untouchable, the organization doesn’t have any under-23 defensemen that would move the needle for Vancouver.
There is, however, Samuel Girard. If Vancouver remains insistent on making moves like a team with playoff aspirations, that acquisition could make some sense.
He’s off to yet another disappointing start this season though, with just five points in 20 games. While it looked like a sure bet two years ago that Girard would develop into a high-end top-four defenseman, doubts are beginning to grow.
For now, it’s wait-and-see time for the Canucks. Horvat’s value is at its peak with his goal-scoring through the roof, leading to what could be a franchise-altering deadline deal.