Of course, the Canucks would normally love the extra offensive production but, with his impending contract, they will likely not be able to afford their captain after this season.
Earlier this week, insider Rick Dhaliwal reported that the Canucks have tendered Horvat their highest contract offer. Horvat rejected it, and now management is considering all of their options. But at this rate, the best (and smartest) option would be dealing Horvat before the offseason.
If a trade is truly inevitable, the Canucks are going to want a big haul for their top scorer. At a modest cap hit of $5.5 million, while also being on pace to score 59 goals, Horvat is a rare commodity.
Here are three trade targets that should peak the Canucks’ interest if they are to trade their captain. These are not full trade suggestions, but rather primary trade pieces. There would likely be other players and/or draft picks involved in these deals and, in some instances, the Canucks may need to retain a portion of Horvat’s contract or take a bad contract back.
But, for the sake of our imagination, let’s see what the captain could fetch in a return.
Simon Nemec (RD), New Jersey Devils
The Canucks selected Horvat with a pick they acquired from the New Jersey Devils. That was, of course, the Cory Schneider trade – one that keeps Devils fans wondering what may have been had they kept the pick.
Now is their opportunity to find out how Bo would finally look in red and black.
This would almost certainly be nothing more than a rental for the Devils, as they have a long lineup of expiring contracts, most of which will not be getting cheaper. But, if they truly think they have a shot at the Stanley Cup this year, a big trade may be worth it.
And when there’s a big trade, there should be a big return.
One of the best defensive prospects in the NHL right now, the thought of adding Simon Nemec is enough to make any General Manager salivate. The 6’1”, 190-lb Slovakian can move the puck at a Cale Makar level, while also being defensively responsible in his own end. What more could you ask from a defenceman?
Vancouver would likely have to retain half of Horvat’s contract and send an additional piece or two the other way but, if New Jersey wants to add lots of goals and strong centre depth, this is the way to do it.
Bowen Byram (LD), Colorado Avalanche
If you’re going to get rid of a Bo, why not replace him with another Bo?
As is the case with any BC-born player, Canucks fans and media have wanted Bowen Byram since he first came onto the hockey scene. The Cranbrook, British Columbia native hasn’t yet broken out in the way that many expected him to, largely due to concussion troubles, but there’s still no doubt of his talent.
Given his injury history, the Canucks would likely want additional trade pieces in addition to Byram – especially if the Avalanche want the Canucks to retain salary on Horvat. And for Horvat, who would be a better team to join than the defending Stanley Cup champions?
The prospect cupboards are bare in Vancouver. The 2023 NHL Draft is supposed to be deep. If the Canucks can add an additional pick or two from a team that’s desperate to make a Cup run, they’ll have a chance to strike gold, and they best way to do that would be through a high draft pick.
For Patrik Allvin and Jim Rutherford, a first-round pick should be the bare minimum in a Horvat trade. However, if they really want to fill Vancouver’s cupboards, they should definitely aim for a second or third round pick on top of the first rounder.
What do you think the Canucks should fetch in return for Horvat? Let us know in the comments below!