Winners and Losers of the Bo Horvat Trade to the New York Islanders

Adam GretzJanuary 31, 2023

Winners and Losers of the Bo Horvat Trade to the New York Islanders

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 27: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks waits for a face-off during the third period of their NHL game against the Columbus Blue Jackets at Rogers Arena on January 27, 2023 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
    Derek Cain/Getty Images

    The first big domino of the NHL's trade season fell on Monday evening when the Vancouver Canucks sent captain (and All-Star) Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders.

    In exchange for Horvat, who is a pending unrestricted free agent after this season, the Canucks receive forward Anthony Beauvillier, prospect Aatu Raty and a conditional first-round draft pick.

    That pick is top-12 protected for the 2023 draft. If the Islanders' pick this year ends up in the top 12, the Canucks will instead get New York's 2024 first-round pick. That pick is not protected.

    The Canucks trading Horvat has seemed inevitable for a while now as the two sides were unable to agree on a new contract extension while the team has been in dire need of a re-tooling.

    The surprise is that he went to the Islanders, a team that never really seemed to enter into the Horvat discussion given their place in the Eastern Conference standings. But they have desperately needed to add another impact player to their lineup for a while now, and Horvat certainly fits that requirement.

    That makes general manager Lou Lamoriello a short-term winner in this trade.

    So with that in mind, let's take a look at all of the winners and losers from this deal.

Winner: Lou Lamoriello

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    EAST MEADOW, NEW YORK - SEPTEMBER 22: General Manager Lou Lamoriello of the New York Islanders attends practice during training camp at Northwell Health Ice Center at Eisenhower Park on September 22, 2022 in East Meadow, New York. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
    Bruce Bennett/Getty Images

    Let's be honest: It has not been a great year or two for Lamoriello as general manager of the Islanders.

    The Devon Toews trade and the salary-cap situation that caused it a couple of years ago turned out to be a disaster. The team has rapidly gotten older with some sketchy contracts and has been short on impact players offensively. This past offseason he brought back largely the same roster and fired Barry Trotz after one down year, banking on the idea that Lane Lambert could fix everything.

    It has not worked out that way, and the Islanders find themselves on the outside of the Eastern Conference playoff picture.

    But the addition of Horvat is a monster move in the short term and adds a bona fide offensive star to the lineup. Horvat brings a dimension that almost nobody else on Long Island has been able to bring in recent years.

    Since the start of last season, Horvat's 62 goals (in only 119 games) are more than any other player on the Islanders' roster.

    Brock Nelson (56 in 124 game) and Anders Lee (47 in 128 games) are the only two players on the roster who have scored more than even 28 goals during that same stretch.

    They simply do not have enough people who can put the puck in the net.

    Even Mathew Barzal, as talented and gifted as he is, is not much of a finisher.

    There is some risk here for the Islanders because they are not a given to make the playoffs, nor are they a given to get Horvat re-signed. There is the potential for them to lose Horvat for nothing after the season and not even have a playoff spot to show for it. And even if they do get in, they are looking at a potential first-round matchup against Boston or Carolina. Neither will be easy.

    The biggest risk is the possibility that the draft pick in the trade gets kicked to 2024 and is unprotected, but a lot of things have to happen before that becomes an issue.

    In the short term, the Islanders have elite goaltending and now have a one-two punch with Barzal and Horvat that might actually be able to impact some games. And it did not really cost them a huge return.

    Worst-case scenario: The team still stinks over the next month, falls further out of the playoff picture and it can flip Horvat to somebody else. It would not be the first time something like that happened with the Islanders (remember the Thomas Vanek experience back in the 2013-14 season?).

Loser: Bubble Eastern Conference Playoff Teams

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    WASHINGTON, DC - JANUARY 26: Penguins left wing Jason Zucker (16) cuts back on a defenseman during the Pittsburgh Penguins versus Washington Capitals National Hockey League game on January 26, 2023 at Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C.. (Photo by Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
    Randy Litzinger/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

    Especially those in the Metropolitan Division, like the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.

    The playoff race for those two Eastern Conference wild-card spots is already tight, and now the Islanders make an early move to get one of the top trade deadline targets on the market to fill a major position of need.

    It is certainly fair to question how good the Islanders are and what they are capable of even after the addition of Horvat, but he does make them better, and that should be a concern for the other bubble teams in the East.

    Some of them could have used a player like Horvat.

    Entering play Monday, the Islanders were on an 86-point pace for the season, which puts a small gap between them and a playoff spot. Pittsburgh (96-point pace) and Buffalo (93-point pace) would hold the two wild-card spots by points percentage, while Washington (91 points) is also on a better pace than the Islanders. As things stand, Horvat might help close that a little.

Winner: Mathew Barzal

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    ELMONT, NEW YORK - JANUARY 28:  Mathew Barzal #13 of the New York Islanders celebrates after scoring the game-winning goal against the Vegas Golden Knights during overtime at UBS Arena on January 28, 2023 in Elmont, New York. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images

    Whether they play on separate lines or the Islanders find a way to pair them together, Barzal has to be happy that he finally has another potential impact player on the roster to take some of the pressure off him offensively.

    And quite honestly, the Islanders might be wise to put them on a line together by letting Horvat play in the middle and shifting Barzal over to the wing full time (and he has already been playing there).

    Barzal is one of the league's best skaters and playmakers and has never really had somebody like Horvat on his line who can finish. That has the potential to be a lethal duo for the Islanders, no matter who the third member of that line would end up being.

    Barzal is the Islanders' franchise player, and he committed to them long-term. The Islanders owe it to him to put something worthwhile around him.

    Horvat is a nice step in the short term.

    It would be even better if they can work out a long-term contract extension.

Loser: Canucks Fans

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    VANCOUVER, CANADA - JANUARY 21:  A fan holds up a sign in support of Bruce Boudreau head coach of the Vancouver Canucks during NHL action between the Vancouver Canucks and the Edmonton Oilers on January, 21, 2023 at Rogers Arena in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.  (Photo by Rich Lam/Getty Images)
    Rich Lam/Getty Images

    I am not going to say this is a full-blown loss for the Canucks because there are a lot of variables at play here.

    Horvat's pending free agency certainly limited their leverage in trade talks, so nobody should have been expecting a huge return.

    There is also the chance they might get something impactful out of this trade in the future.

    Anthony Beauvillier is not really anything more than a decent middle-six player, but he could also be flipped before the trade deadline for another pick or prospect. Aatu Raty is a good prospect, and the draft pick is a huge lottery ticket that could be intriguing depending on where it falls.

    It could work out, but it's hardly a slam dunk win.

    The real loser here, though, is Canucks fans. They have spent years watching this team fall all over itself, while a player like Horvat has been one of the few consistent bright spots they have had to watch. Now that he has turned into a top-tier goal scorer and impact player (not to mention their captain!), they have to trade him away because they can not afford to re-sign him under the cap and the rest of the team has been so poorly mismanaged.

Winner: The Trade Rumor Mill

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    SAN JOSE, CA - JANUARY 16: Timo Meier #28 of the San Jose Sharks skates after the puck against the New Jersey Devils at SAP Center on January 16, 2023 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images)
    Kavin Mistry/NHLI via Getty Images

    Every year we build up the hype around the trade deadline with the hope that there will be blockbusters and bold moves.

    More often than not, it all fizzles out.

    But there are a lot of big potential free agents (and trade candidates) floating around out there on bad teams who could be moved. Now that perhaps the biggest name (Horvat) has already moved, it might force some other teams to try to keep up with the Joneses and make a blockbuster of their own.

    Maybe this is the year we really do get a trade-deadline frenzy?

    Vladimir Tarasenko, Ryan O'Reilly, Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Timo Meier and potentially even Erik Karlsson are all out there. We have not only seen one of the top trade targets move, we also now know exactly what the price will look like. Perhaps that gets the ball rolling on a few other major deals.