The Vancouver Canucks tried, but their captain Bo Horvat is apparently on his way out. The 27-year-old goal scorer will be a top target for many teams in the NHL as the trade deadline nears. The New York Islanders are one of the teams to have already checked up on the centerman, who currently sits with 21 goals on the season.
After a ridiculously terrible start, the Canucks have put themselves back in the playoff mix, but that does not change the fact that certain players like Horvat, and even 25-year-old scorer Brock Boeser, could be on their way out.
However, given their recent turn of events, reports suggest the Canucks’ asking price will not be just prospects and picks that rebuilding teams crave.
Asking for NHL talent to replace the departing mid-20s bedrock players makes sense. The Canucks do not need to rebuild, already having Quinn Hughes, Elias Pettersson, Vasily Podkolzin, Nils Hoglander, and Jack Rathbone as a young core with J.T. Miller, who is signed long term?
Per TSN’s Darren Dreger, the Canucks do have specific needs:
“They [The Canucks] do have specific needs. Maybe it starts with cap space, especially if you look into next year’s roster for the Vancouver Canucks. But they’d like to add a young NHL centreman. They’d also like to add a young NHL right-shot defenceman.”
Dreger stated those needs might not just come from a Horvat trade but the moving of Boeser or a defenseman like Tyler Myers.
In our piece on the Islanders reaching out to the Canucks regarding Horvat, we put together a trade package based on what we believed the Canucks would want.
With these wants coming to the forefront, do the Islanders have enough to get a deal done?
Canucks Want an NHL-Ready Center
The New York Islanders are a veteran team, with veteran centers from the top line to the fourth line: Mathew Barzal, Brock Nelson, Jean-Gabriel Pageau, and Casey Cizikas.
The youngest is 25-year-old Barzal. The other three are in their thirties. Their salary cap hits do not make them prime trade targets for a young team hoping to be on the rise.
The Islanders have a few prospects who could be close to ready for NHL roles in Aatu Räty and Ruslan Iskhakov. Since the Islanders have no room for a center call-up, those two are building their game in Bridgeport.
Aatu Räty was the 52nd overall pick in 2022 but could be the steal of that draft. After a few tough years, with COVID-19 certainly playing a part, Räty fell in the draft rankings. However, llast season, he showed that he could have been a first-round pick. Raty had 40 points in 41 games with Jukurit Mikkeli in the Finnish Elite League.
In his first season with Bridgeport, Räty has five goals and six assists in 21 games, though he is still learning the North American game. He showcased his potential during training camp and preseason. He has the potential to be a no. 2 center in the NHL and seems to be very close to being ready.
For Ruslan Iskhakov, he was the AHL’s Player of the Month in October, with four goals and seven assists in 10 games. The concern with the former second-round pick in 2018 is undersized, at just five-foot-nine, 165 pounds. He has seven goals and 12 assists in 24 games for Bridgeport this season but is anything but a sure bet at being an NHL regular.
Or an NHL-Ready Right-Handed Defenseman
In our New York Islanders trade proposal for Bo Horvat, we believed that the Canucks would want young defensemen, including 22-year-old Samuel Bolduc and 18-year-old Calle Odelius, along with picks to get the job done.
However, both of those prospects are left-shot defensemen–the Canucks want a right-shot defenseman.
At the NHL level, the right-shot defensemen are all veterans, fringe NHL players, that would not move the needle on a trade at all.
The question becomes, as the NHL trade deadline approaches in two months, can the Canucks get more by waiting? That would severely limit the Islanders ability to bring in a Horvat.
*Editor’s Note: This piece was edited after initial publishing for clarity.