While participating in the Smilzone Foundation charity golf tournament on Monday in Brampton, Ontario, New York Islanders center Bo Horvat joined TSN 1050 Toronto’s First Up with Korolnek & Colaiacovo to discuss his experience adjusting to life on Long Island after being traded from the Vancouver Canucks on Jan. 30.
Before the trade, Horvat was one of the top names available, having scored 31 goals for Vancouver to that point. Plenty of teams were looking to acquire the center, but ultimately, it was the Islanders who landed him in exchange for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Räty and a first-round draft pick.
“I knew anything could happen at that point,” Horvat said. “To not get something done [with Vancouver], obviously, it stung a little bit, but, at the same time, when I got traded to the Island, and they offered me that contract, just being there and seeing the facilities, the people and the organization, everybody spoke so highly of it. It was kind of a no-brainer. We couldn’t be happier to be there.”
Horvat made an immediate impact once he was inserted into the Islanders lineup. Paired alongside Mathew Barzal on the top line, the two found instant chemistry, combining for five goals and 12 points in their first six games together. However, when Barzal suffered a lower-body injury in a Feb. 18 game against the Boston Bruins that forced him to miss the rest of the regular season, Horvat started to struggle.
At a time when every game was a must-win, Horvat scored just four times in the Islanders’ final 24 regular season contests. He quickly began to feel the pressure, made more intense under the weight of his new eight-year, $68 million contract extension.
“I like that pressure. I like that intensity,” Horvat said. “You want to be in a market where they care about the game, and they care about the team, and that’s where I am right now.”
Despite his shaky play down the stretch, Horvat helped push the Islanders into the playoffs. Barzal returned for their opening-round series against the Carolina Hurricanes but clearly wasn’t back at full strength. The Islanders were eliminated in six games, while Horvat contributed only two points in the series.
Heading into his first full season in New York this upcoming year, Horvat will be expected to perform at a high level once again. As the team’s top-line center, he will be pivotal to whatever success the Islanders have in 2023.
“Those Long Island fans, they’re passionate,” Horvat said. “They’re obviously chanting through the game, and when you’re not playing well, you’re hearing about it too.
“You’re still going to get talked about, so you just got to deal with it.”