Sportsnet.ca is previewing the top 30 prospects in the 30 days leading up to the National Hockey League draft in New Jersey on June 30.
The top 10 begins with one of the most complete prospects in the draft, the London Knights’ jack-of-all-trades, Bo Horvat.
Stats: London Knights (OHL) | 67 GP | 33 G | 28 A | 61 P | +3 | 29 PIM
Who is Bo Horvat?
Horvat improved his game by leaps and bounds in his sophomore season. The product of Rodney, Ont. emerged in the absence of London’s graduating players and was relied on in every situation. He was drafted ninth-overall by the Knights in the 2011 draft, and won back-to-back J. Ross Robertson Cups as Ontario Hockey League champions. Horvat captured the Wayne Gretzky 99 award as playoffs Most Valuable Player after scoring the championship-winning goal with .1 second remaining in Game 7 of the final.
Internationally, Horvat won a bronze-medal with Team Ontario at the 2012 World Under-17 Hockey Challenge and a gold-medal with Canada’s under-18 team at the 2012 Ivan Hlinka Memorial tournament.
Bo Horvat’s scouting report:
Horvat is a wizard in the faceoff circle and a reliable defensive player. He plays a refined defensive game and worked well in the Knights’ trapping system. Horvat has an active stick that he uses to break up passing lanes and pickpocket the opposition in the neutral zone.
His offensive game also improved this season. He has a scorer’s instincts and touch around the net with a quick release on his wrist shot. Horvat also has the vision to spot the open man and is deadly as a playmaker. His complete, two-way game is reminiscent of Vancouver Canucks pivot, Ryan Kesler.
Teams who might be interested in Bo Horvat:
Horvat’s performance in the playoffs and at the MasterCard Memorial Cup may have vaulted him higher on some lists. He could be seriously considered for the Edmonton Oilers, who pick seventh, while also being on the short list for the Buffalo Sabres, New Jersey Devils, Dallas Stars and Philadelphia Flyers.
Scout’s take: “Horvat was the player that grew on me the most as the season progressed,” said Ross MacLean, head scout for International Scouting Services. “He always looked like a very projectable two-way player, but really matured and cultivated his all-around game even further this year and now he looks like a future NHL captain. He has great passion and compete in his game and plays a consistent brand of hockey that isn’t easy for opponents to keep up with.
“He’s a warrior and can do a bit of everything. He has tremendous hand-eye coordination and an unbelievably hard shot with a quick release. He is not a player you can give any room to in the offensive zone as he will burn you if you do. Horvat will need to continue to develop slightly, but if he remains at this development pace, it’s possible that we could still not fully realize his potential. He could be a real steal, regardless of where he goes in the first round.”
“Bo Horvat is another great two-way player who can score some clutch goals,” adds David Burstyn, director of scouting for McKeen’s Hockey. “He was one of coach Dale Hunter’s favourites. Bo’s skating improved throughout the course of the year, especially diagonally and laterally. He still needs to work on some of his straight-ahead speed, but this is a player that just doesn’t give up. He’s always going to the front of the net to score greasy goals, he always back checks, blocks shots, takes valuable faceoffs. This is a guy that arguably played two minutes of the penalty kills and was also out on the power play, so he plays both special teams. He scored 33 goals, which is pretty impressive.”
Rankings: Horvat was ranked 15th by the NHL’s Central Scouting (North American skaters), 10th by International Scouting Services and 14th by McKeen’s Hockey.