The first domino in Vancouver has fallen, with Bo Horvat getting traded to the New York Islanders, a surprise destination given the player’s pending unrestricted free agency and the Islanders being a couple points out of the playoffs, with more games played than the teams immediately ahead of them.
In return, Vancouver received NHLer Anthony Beauvillier, 20-year-old prospect Aatu Raty and a top-12 protected 2023 first-round pick. They will also retain 25 per cent of Horvat’s remaining cap hit.
It will be a sad day in Vancouver as they watch their captain depart. A year ago, the prevailing opinion was that Horvat would be re-signed at the expense of J.T. Miller. Today, and largely because of Horvat’s career year coinciding with an organizational collapse, he’s been priced out of town.
The expected $8-million starting point for a cap hit on an extension for Horvat was a number the Canucks just weren’t going to get to.
In Horvat, the Islanders will get an offensive centreman who’s eighth in the NHL with 31 goals in 49 games. And New York desperately needed an infusion of offence in their playoff run.
The Isles are 25th in the NHL with 2.85 goals per game, and 31st in the league with a 15.5 per cent power play on the season. But since the Christmas break, they are last in the league by both measures (2.12 goals per game, 7.1 power-play percentage).
The big question now is if the Islanders will sign Horvat. An extension is not part of this trade, and Horvat noted that those discussions haven’t yet happened.
The Islanders already have seven skaters signed next season with an AAV of at least $5 million, including top centre Mat Barzal, whose $9.15-million AAV deal begins in 2023-24. According to CapFriendly, the Isles have $16.275 million in projected off-season cap space, with 16 players under contract.
The Canucks get an intriguing collection of players in return. Beauvillier, a 25-year-old winger, had a career-high 21 goals five years ago and 15 goals in 47 games two years ago, but hasn’t yet broken out as the consistent offensive threat it looked like he could be. With a $4.15-million cap hit, he’s signed through next season and will be UFA when the contract expires.
Raty was a pre-draft-year darling who saw 12 games in Finland’s top pro league a year before he was NHL draft eligible, and was the youngest player on his WJC team in that same season. At one point, Raty was believed to be in the running as the 2021 draft’s top prospect, but a tough draft year ultimately slid him to the second round, where the Isles nabbed him 52nd overall.
And, of course, the Canucks got that all-important first-round pick.
Former NHL scout Jason Bukala provides a scouting break down of what the Canucks got out of this trade.
Beauvillier is a left-shot winger who’s 5-foot-11, 181 pounds. He can be a threat off the rush with his quickness and open ice speed. Beauvillier has always been a highly competitive player. He plays an emotional/energetic game and contributes secondary offence.
There was a time I felt he could end up being a consistent 50-plus point producer at the NHL level — especially after scoring 21 goals in 2017-18 — but he hasn’t been able to find another level in his production.
Raty is having a decent – not elite – rookie season in the AHL playing for Bridgeport (seven goals, eight assists in 27 games). He jumped out at an early age representing Finland at international competitions. In his draft year, he was expected to be a first-round pick, but suffered through one of his worst seasons before dropping to the second round (52nd).
He’s a solid skater, has good puck touch, a quick release and can be a threat off the rush. Raty is 6-foot-2, 187 pounds, and when he’s fully engaged, he isn’t shy about playing between the dots in all three zones and finding pucks around the crease. He has the potential to, in time, find a spot on either the second or third line with the Canucks and be used at even strength and the power play.
Before arriving in AHL Bridgeport, Raty finished 15th in Liiga scoring last season (47 games played, 13 goals, 28 assists, 41 points) playing for Jukurut, but I’m always cautious about how successful scorers from Liiga translate to the NHL. It will take Raty some time.
First-round pick: Top 12 lottery protected
I’m not the least bit surprised the first-round pick the Canucks are receiving is lottery protected. The fact the pick is top-12 protected is a small win for the Canucks as they could still get a top-16 pick from the Islanders – depending on how New York finishes its season.
The 2023 draft is loaded with potential high-end prospects, and the Islanders sit 19th in the overall league standings.