Vancouver Canucks: Bo Horvat ready to breakout

VANCOUVER, BC - APRIL 8: Bo Horvat /

Here at The Canuck Way, we’ll take an in-depth look at the Vancouver Canucks players as we near the 2017-18 season. First up is Bo Horvat, who looks to build off a season where he finished as the team’s leading scorer.

The pressure was on Vancouver Canucks centre Bo Horvat to succeed, considering that former general manager Mike Gillis gave up a star goalie in Cory Schneider so he could draft the young centre.

Well, so far so good. Horvat has progressed more and more each season, and led the Canucks last season with 20 goals and 52 points. The 22-year-old has shown he’s up for being the No. 1 centre from here on out, so expectations are for Horvat to have an even bigger breakout season in 2017-18.

As Henrik and Daniel Sedin continue to decline in production, all signs point to Vancouver building around Horvat — at least until Olli Juolevi and Elias Pettersson are NHL ready. With a solid group of wingers around him, Horvat should be able to produce even more in 2017-18.

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Injuries prevented both Markus Granlund and Sven Baertschi from reaching the 20-goal mark, but if either guy can stay healthy, Horvat should help his left wing mate finally reach the plateau for the first time in their respective careers.

There are plenty of options for Horvat at right wing. Could it be Brock Boeser, who’s also hoping to chip in with 20 goals in his upcoming rookie year?

Or could it be newcomer Sam Gagner, who’s coming off a 50-point season? Horvat’s going to have a great line, no matter who his wingers are.

So with Horvat hopefully starting out as the No. 1 centre and having a solid pair of wingers to complement his talents, the team’s reigning scoring leader is primed for another “breakout” season, if you will.

Taking it to the next level

Horvat’s goal and point totals have gone up each year in the NHL: 25 points in 2014-15, 40 in 2015-16 and 52 in 2016-17. His Corsi For percentage went as followed through his first three seasons: 42.4, 43.3 and 46.8.

That simply means Horvat is growing and maturing more as an NHL player. He’s getting smarter and is learning more and more every game. With new head coach Travis Green — known for his talents of working with young kids — Horvat should be able to develop more into a bonafide star.

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Horvat obviously needs to work more on his defensive play and has to improve the puck possession numbers. But he’s been getting better every year, so the sky is the limit for him in 2017-18 and beyond.

Though he was named to his first All-Star Game in 2017, Horvat still isn’t among the top-of-the-top players in the NHL. But everything is lining up for him to become one of the NHL’s elite centres in 2018.

Projecting the stats

Assuming Horvat’s line consists of Sven Baertschi and Brock Boeser, Horvat will have a great mix of speed and size around him. This new line (we’ll call it the “Killer B’s” if it comes to form), should produce a ton in 2017-18.

There are many factors taking into account when projecting Horvat’s totals: His track record of getting better every season, his supporting cast and Travis Green’s coaching system. So without further ado…here’s what I project for Horvat:

Goals: 28

Assists: 39

Points: 67

PIM: 30

+/-: +5

Corsi For %: 51.5

Horvat will progress even more in 2017-18, as he finally stamps himself as the top player on this roster that Green needs to work around.

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So when all is said and done, Bo Horvat puts up a superstar-like season and continues to remind Vancouver Canucks fans that the Cory Schneider trade was well worth it.