Player: Bo Horvat
Drafted By: Vancouver Canucks (9th overall)
Final Central Scouting Ranking: No. 15 North American skater
Height/Weight: 6'0'', 200 lbs
DOB: May 4, 1995 (18 years old)
Most Recent Affiliation: OHL, London Knights
Bo Horvat has been a two-way standout for the London Knights over the past two years. As a rookie he scored 11 goals and added 19 assists as the Knights were crowned OHL champions in 2012. His outstanding defensive play was evident from the get-go, as he posted an impressive plus-27 rating through 64 games as a rookie.
He didn't let up during his second year with the Knights, improving upon his goal and assist totals as London once again dominated the OHL. He was the fourth-leading scorer on the team with 33 goals and 28 assists through 67 games played—impressive totals for a player who was used in every defensive situation conceivable by the coaching staff in London. He then caught fire in the playoffs, scoring 16 goals in 21 games.
Full Scouting Report
No one doubts Horvat's ability to finish his chances, but that won't be what he's known for at the NHL level. What stands out about the 6'0'', 200-pound center is his bullish mentality and unquenchable desire to compete and win.
He's a monster in the faceoff circle and is typically the first guy in the corner, digging for loose pucks. Horvat was likely the most complete player available in the draft, as his two-way game and attention to detail in the defensive zone are heads and toes above the rest of the draft class.
His leadership and playmaking ability at both ends of the rink makes Horvat a selfless player who has no problem setting up his teammates for scoring opportunities and making physical plays to benefit his team... He was also one of the best players in the faceoff circle in the OHL this season, winning 60 to 70 percent of faceoffs every game.
While he's not going to blow anyone away with his skating and shooting, his hockey IQ is outstanding—Horvat has a knack for outworking the opposition for 50-50 pucks and then finding open teammates with slick passes.
NHL Player Comparison
Jeff Skinner of the Carolina Hurricanes. Horvat works hard on every shift and is willing to pay the extra cost of digging pucks out of the dirty areas.
Because of his well-rounded game, Horvat could find himself in the NHL by the 2014-15 season. He could possibly make the jump sooner, but he would benefit greatly from one more year in the OHL. He could use that time to work on his skating and to pack on more muscle, making it easier to play his brand of hockey against NHL-sized players.
The worst-case projection for Horvat is an above-average third-line center. Given his tenacity and willingness to go to war for his teammates, he could eventually slot in as a No. 2 center, providing the grit and sandpaper for his more talented teammates. Role-wise, think Justin Abdelkader with the Detroit Red Wings or Dustin Brown with the Los Angeles Kings.