Rumour Roundup: Is Bo Horvat’s time in Vancouver running out?

Justin Bourne and Nick Kypreos discuss what teams could make a move for Bo Horvat and what the Vancouver Canucks could get in return.

The Vancouver Canucks, it seems, cannot make it through a week without talk of trade, talk of a rebuild, or talk of whatever wild result the team experienced in its latest game.

Though the Canucks were off the ice on Monday, Bo Horvat‘s future with the team became a topic for sports radio. In last week’s 32 Thoughts column, Elliotte Friedman wrote that “it’s not trending well” for an extension between the captain and his team. With 20 goals in 28 games, Horvat is off to a hot start and sits fourth in league goal scoring, and certainly raising his value on the market.

That performance is complicating contract negotiations, and could eventually lead the Canucks to explore trading Horvat in-season before he becomes a UFA in the summer of 2023.

“(I’m) hearing the Canucks made an offer to Bo Horvat recently, it was rejected. The Canucks stretched it as far as they can go,” Rick Dhaliwal said on Donnie and Dhali Monday. “Even the number the Canucks were willing to go to, they would have been over the cap at the end of the season. Bo has earned the right to hit the free agent market, the Canucks will now take the best offer for Bo.”

Horvat currently makes $5.5 million against the cap, and scored a career-high 31 goals last season — a mark he seems set to improve upon in 2022-23. That performance has driven Horvat’s price up, and now makes teammate JT Miller an interesting comparable. The latter re-signed for seven years and an $8 million cap hit in September, on a deal that doesn’t kick in until next season.

Horvat, 27, is at his peak right now, and with the open market on the horizon, an $8 million AAV may be the floor on what to expect from an extension.

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And, though teams are permitted to go 10 per cent over the cap in the off-season, if the Canucks put another $8 million player on the books, it would force tough decisions elsewhere on the roster. Andrei Kuzmenko, for instance, has become a strong piece of this team in his first year, but he could be a UFA in the summer as well. And, keep in mind, Elias Pettersson will need his own extension after next season.

“What was the Canucks’ offer?” Dhaliwal continued. “Knowing what I know about everything that’s gone on in the past few months I’m going to guess it was under 8. I believe Bo and his hot start have put him over 8. I believe the Canucks, just after the Miller contract, the wiggle room is not there. They can’t sign another $8 million player.”

So, unless something changes in the coming weeks and months, a trade may have to occur here. The Canucks certainly won’t be able to let Horvat walk to free agency without acquiring some assets to move forward with.

On Tuesday, amidst all the rumours and speculation, Horvat released a statement through the team that simply said: “I am focused on this season and playing for the Vancouver Canucks, helping the team in any way I can. I will not have any further comments this year about my future.” 

If Horvat doesn’t re-sign, his trade will be an important one in shaping the future of the team.

“If this happens and it ends up being a Bo Horvat trade, you take the best offer,” Dhaliwal said. “My feeling for a Horvat trade is going to be a young centreman, young defenceman, preferably on the right side, and a draft pick.”

While it would be surprising to see a trade prior to the NHL’s holiday roster freeze (Dec. 19-27), it’s worth noting the trade deadline this season lands on March 3.

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Could the Coyotes add a goalie to the trade market?

At 9-13-4, the Arizona Coyotes‘ start to the season has perhaps not been as bad as many projected. Sure, they’re still fourth-last in the league with a minus-24 goal differential, but given the challenges the team has faced with few home games and a written off roster, their compete and effort has been laudable.

Still, when it comes down to it, the Coyotes will be sellers at some point this season. Jakob Chychrun’s name is the main one to watch here, but there’s another player turning heads around the league.

Goalie Karel Vejmelka, 26, has been a good story for the team. He somehow has an 8-7-3 record and a .913 save percentage — and, according to, Vejmelka’s 15.8 goals saved above expected leads the league right now.

Graphic courtesy

“There’s a lot of talk about Chychrun and we all know why, but I had a couple guys say to me the guy they’re wondering about there is Vejmelka,” Elliotte Friedman said on the Jeff Marek Show Monday. “I don’t know that anyone is thinking of actually thinking of doing something like that, I’m not sure that Arizona would entertain it. But that’s the guy that I’d be looking at if I was another team and I needed goaltending. He’s having a dynamite year.”

Of course, what would make Vejmelka appealing to other teams is also what would make him attractive to the Coyotes to keep around. He’s still young enough that he could be part of the future, but he’s also cost effective. Vejmelka makes a bargain $2.725 million against the salary cap for another two years past this one, and his efforts will help keep a young, rebuilding Coyotes roster in games more often. And that factor cannot be underestimated when trying to build a new culture and bringing in younger players.

Because of his contract, the Coyotes don’t need to make a call on Vejmelka for a couple of years yet. Or, they could choose to strike while the iron is hot and the market is there, if they can get a return to be happy with.

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