The Vancouver Canucks are officially open for business.
On Monday afternoon, the team kicked off this year’s trade deadline frenzy in a massive way, sending captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders in exchange for forward Anthony Beauvillier, centre prospect Aatu Räty and a conditional 2023 first round pick.
At first, both fans and media needed time to wrap their heads around the transaction.
Not only did the Canucks pull the trigger on a deal over a month before the March 3rd deadline, but they drastically changed the look of their roster for the remaining 33 games of the season.
However, now that the dust and emotion has started to settle, the hockey world (this contributor included) has been able to properly see how each team benefitted from the trade.
Let’s start with the New York Islanders.
Currently just two points back of the second wild card spot in the Eastern Conference, the Islanders were able to add a bonafide top-six centre to the roster, and one that will immediately help them in two main areas during their current playoff chase: scoring and powerplay success.
Before being shipped to Long Island, Horvat led the Canucks with 31 goals in just 49 games, 10 ahead of both Elias Pettersson and Andrei Kuzmenko, and is currently on pace for 50+ goals for the first time in his career.
Of those 31 tallies, Horvat was able to notch 11 of those on the man advantage, which also led the team, and should drastically help New York’s powerplay, one that currently ranks dead last in the league.
His personal success also matched that of some of the biggest stars in the game, putting him eighth amongst all skaters in goals and tied for tenth in powerplay goals.
To put that into perspective, Horvat has been able to find the back of the net more times than players like Leon Draisaitl, Brayden Point, Auston Matthews and Kirill Kaprizov, making him an extremely valued addition to the Islanders.
However, despite Horvat’s immediate impact on his new team, there’s still an argument for the Canucks to come out on top in this trade for a few reasons.
For starters, the Canucks are receiving two younger players in Beauvillier and Räty, both of whom bring different skill sets to the organization while also filling the card of being 20-25 years of age.
But what’s really enticing is what the team could get with the conditional first round pick.
As explained on Monday afternoon, Vancouver will not receive this pick if it falls in the top-12. Given where the Islanders currently are in the standings, as well as which teams are below them in the Eastern Conference, it’s likely that they will remain in the middle of the pack, giving Vancouver a good shot at selecting in the 13-16 pick range, in addition to their own pick.
However, if the Islanders stumble their way into the bottom 12 by the end of the season, then Vancouver will receive an unprotected first round pick in 2024.
Although that draft class isn’t as deep as this upcoming one, Vancouver will receive New York’s first round pick no matter what.
And if Horvat doesn’t end up signing long-term with the Islanders, then the team will once again be relying on Ilya Sorokin and Mat Barzal to carry the weight, which might be too heavy in a strong Metropolitan Division and up against an always difficult Atlantic Division.
In other words, that pick could be very high in 2024 if things don’t unfold well for the Islanders.
It’s also important to talk about how the team plans to develop Räty.
Shortly after the trade on Monday, General Manager Patrik Allvin announced that Räty will be assigned to Abbotsford instead of joining the big club right away, a move that this fanbase often didn’t see from the previous regime.
A former first overall pick contender, Räty will now have the chance to further develop his skating, shooting and defensive responsibilities, all of which are extremely important at his position, before trying to prove himself in the NHL.
And if those three can create consistent and lethal chemistry on a line together, the Canucks could be establishing their future third or fourth line right before their eyes.
And finally, the Canucks will finally have some cap relief for the upcoming offseason to hopefully find some much-needed help on the blueline.
What are your thoughts? Did Vancouver come away as the winner in the Horvat deal? Let us know in the comments!