Over the course of the offseason, The Canuck Way will be posting report cards for each player on the Vancouver Canucks. To kick off the series, let’s take a look at Bo Horvat.
After the departure of Henrik Sedin, the Vancouver Canucks played this season with a leadership group of four assistant captains. The A’s were put on different players jerseys when one of the main four assistant captains went down with an injury, but for the most part, the assistant captains this season for the Canucks were Brandon Sutter, Alex Edler, Chris Tanev — and Bo Horvat.
Season Grade: A
Horvat’s season had all the right pieces in place to be a disaster. With the emergence of Elias Pettersson, Horvat lost one of his usual linemates from the 2017-18 season, Brock Boeser, along with his other regular linemate, Sven Baertschi, to injury. The result of losing these two meant Horvat was seeing just about every other pair of wingers the Canucks had on their roster.
The list of wingers who played with Horvat this season is extremely long, but it includes Loui Eriksson, Brendan Leipsic (remember him?), Josh Leivo, Jake Virtanen, and Nikolay Goldobin. I could go on, but I won’t — you get the point. Horvat’s line this season was a carousel of wingers.
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On top of that, an injury to Jay Beagle meant that Horvat was being asked to play in tough situations against the opposition’s top lines on most nights. He was logging career-high minutes and was asked to play a shutdown role while the team awaited the return of Beagle. As I said, it had all the making to be a season filled with disappointment for Horvat.
But instead, the now 24-year-old Ontario native showed that he’s capable of being an absolute workhorse for this team and is indeed captain material. Horvat tallied career highs in goals (27), assists (34), and points (61). He was also the only member of the Canucks to suit up for all 82 games of the season. He also led the league in faceoffs with 2,018.
Horvat finished the year strong and seemed to benefit from some stability in playing with the newly acquired Tanner Pearson. If they can stay healthy, Horvat, Pearson and Baertschi could be a solid second line for the Canucks next season. Speaking of next season, let’s talk about what we can expect to see from Horvat next year.
Expectations for next season
Next year, Horvat will likely be named the captain of the team. This has been the general feeling for a couple of years now, and in the team’s 50th season where many ceremonies will take place, including the Sedin’s jersey retirement ceremony, why not name Bo the captain next season?
The owner of the Canucks, Francesco Aquilini, said in his end of season letter to fans and season ticket holders that he was encouraged by the play of Horvat this year, saying, “Bo Horvat maturing into a skilled, durable leader who can play with anybody, against anybody, in any situation.” A skilled, durable leader? Sounds like Frankie is on board with the idea of Captain Bo.
Hopefully, with some consistency in linemates, Horvat can flourish next season. I expect him to only go up from here, and I expect to see him reach at least 60 points next season, as well. He may even be capable of reaching 70 or 80, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves — Horvat will need better wingers than what he saw this year if he is going to reach point totals like those.
Horvat said at today’s media availability that, at 24, he doesn’t feel like a young guy anymore, but also that he doesn’t feel he’s reached his peak, either. Horvat added that he feels the Canucks have the right team to make a deep playoff run in the future.
What are your expectations for Horvat next season, and how would you grade his season this past year? To me, he is deserving of at least an A, maybe even an A+. It’s not easy to do what Bo did this year, and his efforts should be applauded. That’s my captain!