The #1 name on most trade boards has been moved and it’s still January! Razzball favorite Dr. Bo Horvat was shipped to the Islanders on Monday for a top 12 protected 1st round pick in the 2023 draft, Anthony Beauvillier, and Aatu Raty. With only six total games on the docket this week (four the past two nights), this gives me a chance to do a full breakdown on this trade. I’m going to look at the move from both sides before making some final conclusions. Let’s get to it!
FOR THE ISLANDERS
It appears that the early plan is for Mathew Barzal to play wing on Horvat’s line. Even ignoring the level of play Horvat has been at for exclusively this season, Horvat’s norm instantly makes him the best linemate Barzal has ever had. Barzal’s playmaking and Horvat’s finishing does seem like a very good combination. It’s hard to project who will be the third wheel there, but it has to be said that with how well the second line has played, it’s not going to be anyone that belongs in the top six.
Horvat’s defensive abilities have always been overstated. He’s great at the faceoff dot, but he’s not a good defensive player. According to goals above expected defensively, Horvat is in the 18th percentile defensively this season, while being in the 87th percentile offensively. Thankfully for fantasy, we don’t really care about defense. Horvat was already due for regression shooting 21.7% in Vancouver. While the Isles aren’t the defensive shell that they were with Trotz, they’re still not playing wide open hockey. Not an ideal spot to land.
The main impetus for the trade was to improve New York’s awful PP, which is 31st in the league. Horvat does have 11 goals and 7 assists on the PP this season, which makes you think that he would go a long way to fixing things. While it’s possible, I have my doubts. Horvat was able to thrive in the bumper spot in Vancouver because of how good the puck movement was on the outside between Hughes, Pettersson, and Miller. Now, when healthy, the Isles are looking at Dobson, Barzal, and Nelson in those spots, with Lee in front of the net? That’s just nowhere near the same level of distribution to Horvat. He’s also not going to move to the half wall and start ripping slapshots, that’s not his game. I’m sure Barzal will be able to slip some passes into Horvat in the middle of the ice, but I don’t think someone in the bumper role is capable of fixing a team’s power play, no matter how good he is. It has to be a PPQB or someone on the outside.
Overall, I don’t think this does much to improve the chances for the Islanders this season. They have to beat three of Pittsburgh, Washington, Buffalo, and Florida for the rest of the way to make the playoffs, and currently they’re behind Pittsburgh and Buffalo despite playing three more games. Their goaltending is capable of carrying them so it’s not impossible, but they’re buying high on Horvat and preparing to pay him for that level of play. Obviously Horvat makes them a better team, but I don’t think it’s enough. If they’re unable to agree to an extension quickly, who knows, maybe the Isles flip him again at the deadline if they fall out of it like they did with Vanek almost a decade ago.
For fantasy, this is a downgrade for Horvat, but it’s unclear how much until we see him play a few games. It’s not enough to change his hold status regardless, so if you’re an owner like yours truly, you kind of have to accept it and see what happens.
FOR THE CANUCKS
The main piece in this trade is that first round pick in the coming draft, top 12 protected. This was easily the best first round pick that the Canucks could have acquired. Everyone else reportedly looking at Horvat (Boston, Carolina, Colorado, etc.) have less valuable first round picks than New York’s. Obviously the ceiling on the pick is fairly capped because of the protection, although if the pick doesn’t convey this year, it is unprotected in 2024.
At this point, Beauvillier is a negative asset. He could potentially turn it around, but after two strong playoff rounds, Beauvillier has been a disappointment the last two seasons. He has one more year after this at $4.15 million, which isn’t good at all. I’m sure Vancouver intends to rebuild his value. With Mikheyev and Pearson out for the season, Beauvillier should slide right into the top six. I think that his acquisition makes it likely that Garland and/or Boeser get moved sooner than later. For now, Beauvillier is in bottom end streamer territory. There’s upside from there, but I have my doubts that he reaches it.
I’m a bigger fan of Raty than consensus. He was supposed to be a first round pick but ended up falling into the second round because of a horrible draft year, caused by COVID, injuries, and his struggles upon returning. I don’t see massive upside, but Raty has looked good in his cup of tea in the NHL so far. I see a middle six player in the long term, probably a third liner, but I do see the chance of being a second liner. There’s some value in deep dynasties, but I wouldn’t be looking to stash him in shallower leagues as he’s going right to the AHL.
The biggest winner in the short term for Vancouver should be Brock Boeser. My expectation is that he gets the PP1 spot from Horvat that Boeser originally lost to Kuzmenko this year. I’m bumping Boeser up to a solid streamer, although the Canucks could surprise and put Garland there, and there’s the chance Boeser gets traded, so we’re only looking at a short term boost here.
Overall, I kind of view this as a lose-lose trade. The Canucks acquired another overpriced middle-six winger that they don’t need which devalues their return quite a bit. Last year, Giroux returned a bad first, a solid prospect, and a third round pick. His value shouldn’t have been much different than Horvat’s. Horvat did return the better first, but Tippett was a better prospect than Raty, and they’re taking on a negative asset to acquire those two pieces instead of getting the third round pick.
That said, I still think they did better than the Islanders. The Islanders already had a depleted prospect pool and traded their top prospect and top pick for a team that is on the outside looking in with a lot of teams in their way. They didn’t talk to Horvat about an extension before it was done, and even if there was a back room handshake deal, the odds of Horvat signing a team friendly deal this close to free agency is near-nil. Fantasy wise, Horvat loses value, while every other player besides potentially Boeser sees minimal impact. We’ll have to wait a bit longer for a trade that really moves the needle.
Let me know in the comments section if you like this type of post and I’ll do more in the future. I’ll have a look at my bold predictions from preseason on Friday before a new hold/stream list on Monday. Thanks for reading, take care!