Bo Horvat! I haven’t had a chance to write anything since the trade happened with the Vancouver Canucks, and I’m sure you’re sick of reading longer posts about the whole situation. We have plenty of pieces that dissect the trade, what it means for the New York Islanders in the here and now, and whether Horvat will sign an extension.
But let me just say that I am excited. It’s rare that your team makes a blockbuster trade, and it’s even rarer if your team is the Islanders. As Michael Leboff said on the reaction Islanders Anxiety emergency episode, this is the kind of stuff that being a fan is all about. And on top of that, it seems fairly likely that Horvat will stick around beyond this season, as we’ll get to below.
I’m sad to see Anthony Beauvillier go. Dan Saraceni covers this well, but Beauvillier showed flashes of brilliance and had huge moments as an Islander, scoring easily the most important goal for the franchise in decades. He also disappeared for long stretches and never quite lived up to his potential and cost a decent amount of money for what he brought. That being said, I will be telling my kids and my grandkids about Game 6 in 2021—hopefully, as a lead-up to a Stanley Cup in the early-to-mid 2020s and not as a “this is the peak of my fandom” moment—and Beauvillier will be front and center.
I’m also sad to see Aatu Räty go, as he seemed to have some potential. Not to mention, he fit the “Islanders against the world” ethos as a guy who was once projected to go top five in his draft, only to fall all the way to 52nd overall. But you have to give to get. And thankfully, Lou protected this year’s first-round pick: It would suck if things go south this season even after this trade, but having the chance to add Connor Bedard or Adam Fantilli to this roster might soften that blow.
You might have thought when I wrote above that you didn’t want to read any more long ramblings that I’d spare you my thoughts. Well, too bad! Okay, onward to real news and notes.
- Horvat is excited about new beginnings with the Islanders. [Islanders] He thought he’d be a “Canuck for life” but seems ready for a change after the circus this year has been. He can just focus on hockey. [Sportsnet]
- The immediate question is where does Horvat fit in the lineup? Kevin Kurz, beyond stating that the Islanders should make another trade, says likely on a line with Mathew Barzal and the bumper spot on the first power play. [The Athletic] Adam Vingan largely agrees. [Sportsnet] So does Lou Lamoriello, at least in terms of upgrading the offense and the power play. Adding a consistent 30-goal guy on pace for over 50 will do that. [Islanders]
- Actually, the first question everyone had was what number would Horvat wear since his no. 53 has been worn by Casey Cizikas for a while. The answer: no. 14. [LHH | Islanders]
- Elliotte Friedman calls it an “interesting gamble” for both the Islanders and the Canucks. But he says, here and on The Jeff Marek Show yesterday, that he thinks an extension gets done and that Lou doesn’t make the deal without a strong idea that Horvat will extend. He notes that Horvat is represented by Newport Sports, which represents six current Islanders and has worked with Lou before. (He also wonders if the Carolina Hurricanes, who need a center, inquire about J-G Pageau.) [Sportsnet] The other most reliable “insider,” Frank Seravalli, seems to agree regarding the extension:
Seravalli: My understanding is Lou wasn't pulling the trigger on this deal unless he knew Horvat was re-signing— Taj (@taj1944) February 1, 2023
- And so does Pierre LeBrun, who also notes that Horvat wants to discuss an extension with the Islanders, so there’s confirmed mutual interest in a long-term deal. He further states that Horvat would have had the Islanders high up on his list this summer if he made it to UFA. [TSN]
- You might be curious: How did Horvat turn himself into a star player? [NY Post]
- Andrew Gross is probably right in stating that the Islanders will need to make another move if they’re serious about making the playoffs this season. [Newsday]
- Going the other way, Beauvillier and Räty are excited for the new challenge of playing in Vancouver, although they both appeared shocked about the trade. [Newsday | Sportsnet]
Not Islanders but News
Last night’s NHL scores include the Blue Jackets nearly doing a favor for the Islanders—I was watching as they came back from down 3-1 to tie it and nearly won it in the final minute and a half—but still allowing the Capitals to beat them in overtime.
- Horvat was the captain of the Canucks. In what has been rumored to be a fractured locker room, losing the captain could cause chaos. They’ll need to search for that leadership. [Sportsnet]
- Thomas Drance writes that the return Vancouver got for Horvat is a bit underwhelming, but aside from Beauvillier, at least it looks to the future. [The Athletic]
- But what does this mean for the... San Jose Sharks? No, that can’t be right... wait, it is! It gives a window into what they could expect to get back for Timo Meier. [The Athletic]
- Gary Bettman’s career as NHL commissioner has been a bit of a mixed bag: some good, some really good, some three lockouts and the Outdoor Living Network. But after 30 years on the job, I guess nobody’s perfect. I think I’ll always appreciate that he helped keep the Islanders in the area, and he was an Isles fan. Here are 30 key moments in his career. [ESPN]