Canucks Have Offer On the Table for Horvat - Blackhawks' Impact?

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Canucks Have an Offer On the Table for Horvat (Blackhawks’ Trade Impact?)

Chicago Blackhawks

The Vancouver Canucks are a steaming dumpster fire of an organization right now. There are rumors that their coach, Bruce Boudreau, is on borrowed time — Elliotte Friedman reported over the weekend that Rick Tocchet is their “coach in waiting” — and there are both internal and external investigations regarding the handling of Tanner Pearson’s injury.

Add to those issues the fact that the team is massively underperforming for a second straight season, and things are ugly in a beautiful city right now.

To that end, president of hockey operations Jim Rutherford spoke with the media on Monday. Rutherford has a terrific track record that includes almost two decades leading the Carolina Hurricanes and then a few years in Pittsburgh with the Penguins. He’s seen some stuff in the NHL, but he told the media that the issues he inherited are much more significant than he initially anticipated.

Here’s something from Rutherford that got my attention:

Bo Horvat, the Canucks’ 27-year-old captain, is a terrific center who is in the final year of a contract with a $5.5 million cap hit. He has won 55.9 percent of a league-high 995 faceoffs and has scored 30 goals with 18 assists in 43 games entering Monday.

With Horvat in a walk-year, he’s been at the top of almost every trade rumor mill this season. The Canucks have tried to extend him previously but haven’t been able to agree on term or money. It appears Horvat wants more money than the Canucks are willing or able to give him, which is why Rutherford also reiterated that they need to clear some cap space to make other things happen.

If Horvat hits the market, he would be the top center option for teams that need help in the middle. With all due respect to Jonathan Toews and Max Domi, Horvat’s numbers are stronger and the idea of extending him is more likely. He’s scored at least 20 goals in six of the past seven seasons, with 19 goals in the pandemic-shortened 2021 season. He hit his career-high of 31 last year and is one away from tying that this season already.

He’s a top-tier stud.

However, if the market isn’t where the Canucks want it to be for Horvat, and they decide to work harder to keep him between now and the draft/free agency opening, that takes a big center target off the market. Which could, in theory, help the Blackhawks if they open the doors for either Toews or Domi.

With that being said, if the market isn’t bringing the value the Canucks want, one does have to wonder if that is an indication that the rental market isn’t shaping up as strong as selling GMs would prefer.

When Blackhawks GM Kyle Davidson briefly spoke to the media over the weekend, he indicated the market is moving slowly right now. There are more teams jockeying for playoff position still, which is going to potentially put more teams in a position to buy but also has some front offices being cautious; a 4-5 game losing streak could shift the focus of an organization at this point.

The NHL Trade Deadline is March 3, so expect the talk to intensify in the weeks to come. Especially if you’re a team with interesting pieces to sell and cap space to help accommodate another team’s addition (cough, Blackhawks, cough).

Author: Tab Bamford

Tab is the Lead Blackhawks voice for BN. He is the author of two books about the Blackhawks, most recently "Chicago Blackhawks: An Illustrated Timeline" (Reedy Press, 2021). Find him on Twitter at @The1Tab