The Expendable Bo Horvat

The market has turned its attention to Bo Horvat.

Despite the fact the Canucks started the 2022/23 season with an NHL record-setting three multi-goal blown lead losses, we all are trying to determine what should be done about ‘Cap.

He needs a contract, he’s the captain and he resides in a very crowded top nine, surrounded by players who seemingly can do what he does if not better.

The Vancouver Canucks have long been accused of falling in love with their players. Re-signing, extending and holding onto their home grown or cultivated talent until it was far too late to garner a worthwhile return. With Brock Boeser and JT Miller being extended over the summer, we soon realized the big drastic roster changes weren’t going to happen and the same familiar faces would be back for another season of Canucks hockey. Locking Boeser and Miller locked down long term became the catalyst for all this Horvat attention.

The Vancouver market hasn’t necessarily turned its back on Horvat, but they are quantifying everything he does. They’re calculating dollar values for his intangibles on and off the ice, his offensive production and his advanced stats. How much is what Bo Horvat brings to the Canucks worth? The majority of people seem to think, regardless of the salary cap going up in the near future, that the rumored well over seven million dollar asking price is far too much. 

Horvat’s underlying numbers outline a defensively sound, responsible forward who gets the unfortunate task of taking far too many defensive zone faceoffs. He isn’t quite the shutdown specialist like Sean Couturier is, and he isn’t a bonafide number one centre, no matter what his agent is telling you on local sports media programs. Horvat has been with the Canucks for seven years and outside of his ride or die winger Tanner Pearson, he has always struggled to find consistency and chemistry with Canucks’ forwards. While the argument can be made that Bo Horvat has played with a revolving door of forwards, you’ve got to ask yourself why can’t he make it work with one of them? The Lotto Line found chemistry together, and the components of that line have also found chemistry with other forwards over the years. Canucks’ president Jim Rutherford spent many years in Pittsburgh moving players in and out who couldn’t find chemistry with Crosby and Malkin; the same approach should definitely be considered here in Vancouver.

With Canucks’ management doubling down long term on this core, fans and media are looking at what could be expendable on this team in order to squeak under the salary cap. Based on the decisions made this summer on Boeser and Miller, Bo Horvat has become that expendable piece.

Clip from Episode 350 ‘Unfinished Unfinished Business’ – is Bo Horvat’s time coming to an end in Vancouver?

I also sit back and wonder if Bo deserves any blame in that ‘country club atmosphere’ or the slow starts and poor practice habits management outlined after their arrival in Vancouver. You can’t put all the blame for their lack of preparedness on the captain, but he unquestionably plays a huge role in that locker room. Unless you’re in the room or play on the team, it’s impossible to suggest what type of captain Horvat is, but when the same issues remain year after year with this team, you might wonder if a leadership change could result in a culture change.

The last time the Canucks’ locker room was described as a country club atmosphere, it featured a stale core several years removed from winning back to back Presidents’ Trophies and John Tortorella was brought in to put an end to that atmosphere. Now, almost a decade later, an entire new young roster has been plagued with that laid back, carefree moniker. With your big names signed long term and a couple very crucial RFA contracts looming in a couple years, you can’t squander these key years with this young core.

Perhaps moving on from Bo Horvat could be a much easier country club smashing tactic than salting the earth and bringing Torts into town.

We discuss Horvat’s pending free agency and his role on the Canucks in detail on our new podcast. Follow and subscribe wherever you get your podcasts from!

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