Yes, I know that the first round of the playoffs just ended and we’re six months away from next season starting.  We’ll talk about the second round matchups on a podcast that will drop on Tuesday.  I don’t believe that people will get much out of me posting notes about the playoffs so what better time to drop my first sleeper post for next year?  Bo Horvat, also known as Dr. Bo in these parts, has been talked about for months as a fantasy sleeper for next season by yours truly.  What can we expect from Horvat next season and why is he a sleeper?

There are three main reasons why I like Horvat.  The first is simply natural progression.  Horvat, the ninth overall pick in 2013, has increased his point total every season in his career.  The 22 year old scored 25 points as a rookie, 40 points as a sophomore and in his third season (2016-17), Horvat registered 52 points (20+32).  The penalty minutes and shots were also a career high.  It’s reasonable to expect continued improvement solely on Dr. Bo moving towards his prime.

The second reason is increased opportunity.  Horvat’s minutes increased to 18:02 on average this season.  I’m expecting that number to increase even more given that the Sedins are getting older.  Horvat was already being used as a shutdown center but the Canucks should feel safe using him in all situations, including the power play.  The power play provides massive opportunity for improvement.  He had only 10 power play points this season since he didn’t play on the first unit the entire season.  I’d be shocked if Horvat isn’t on the first unit next season since it finished that way in 2016-17.  Push that number into the high teens and we see plenty of upside.

The late reason is an improved quality of teammate.  Yes, the Canucks were a disaster this season finishing 29th, but in addition to Horvat, there are plenty of bright spots going forward.  Brock Boeser jumped from the NCAA to the NHL and looked great in his last nine games.  Nikolay Goldobin has incredible upside as a scoring winger.  Sven Baertschi made steady improvement this season primarily on Horvat’s wing.  On top of that, they have a great chance at a top pick in this draft.  While this draft is weaker at the top compared to the last few seasons, if the Canucks hold as a top two pick, they’re going to get a player who can make an instant impact.  Horvat doesn’t need that to happen to take the next step but it certainly wouldn’t hurt.  Perhaps Loui Eriksson bounces back or they make a splash in free agency as well.

To summarize, if we start at a 50 point baseline for Horvat, increased power play usage alone should push him towards 60 points.  Add in continual improvement in Horvat’s game at even strength and improved linemates and you can see why I’m excited for Horvat.  I’m not going to give him projections this far out but let’s say that I expect him to get at least 60 points and there’s even some upside from there.  For a guy who definitely won’t be ranked in the top 100, there should be plenty of value from Dr. Bo.

Any thoughts or doubts?  Let me know in the comments section below.  Reid and I will record a podcast recapping the first round and previewing the second round on Tuesday so look for that to drop in the afternoon.  Thanks for reading, take care!

  1. Hey-oh! says:

    Great read! Nice to see someone write something positive about the Canuckleheads.

    Do you think Bo’s natural progression will be slowed by opposing teams matching their shutdown players against his line, instead of the Sedins? We started seeing that towards the end of this season and his point production took a noticeable hit.

    • Viz

      Viz says:

      @Hey-oh!: thanks, I appreciate it! It is a slight concern but I think the other factors are bigger. I also tend to discount the last 10-15 games of the season, especially for a team who is completely out of it and the games mean nothing. I guess it depends on who the new coach is but Willie was already using Horvat in tough matchups when he could.

    • I got $100 for groceries, $1400 for liquor, and $6,000 for you to go bail a couple of shit puppets out of jail says:

      @Hey-oh!: hmm, i thought the only person who said “canuckleheads” was a guy in one or two of my leagues.

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