How Horvat to Islanders impacts Bruins ahead of NHL trade deadline originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
The Bo Horvat trade sweepstakes are over and the New York Islanders have won.
The Vancouver Canucks announced Monday they have dealt Horvat to the Islanders in exchange for left wing Anthony Beauvillier, center prospect Aatu Raty and a conditional 2023 first-round pick.
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TSN's Pierre LeBrun reported that the first-rounder going to Vancouver is top-12 protected in 2023, and if the pick doesn't convey this year it becomes unprotected in 2024.
It's a steep price for the Islanders, who now must re-sign Horvat or risk him leaving New York in the summer as an unrestricted free agent.
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Horvat was the top player rumored to be available before the March 3 NHL trade deadline. He's having a career season with 31 goals and 23 assists in 49 games. He has an impressive two-way skill set and is firmly in the prime of his career.
How does this trade impact the Boston Bruins? Let's hit some quick points.
What might a comparable B's offer have looked like?
The B's were rumored to be interested in Horvat, which made sense. He could have been a long-term top-six center in Boston with Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci in the late stages of their careers. But acquiring him was always going to be difficult for the B's. They don't have much salary cap flexibility, which would have made it tough to both acquire Horvat and then extend him to a long-term deal. Boston also doesn't have the same quality of trade assets that other contenders possess.
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What's the equivalent of the Islanders package using Bruins pieces? One of Jake DeBrusk, Pavel Zacha or Trent Frederic, plus Fabian Lysell and a 2023 first-rounder would be comparable to Beauvillier, Raty and a first-rounder. That would have been a very steep price for a B's organization that lacks elite prospects as well as high-end young players at the NHL level.
Horvat didn't go to one of Bruins' top competitors
The best part of this trade for the Bruins is Horvat didn't end up on one of their main competitors for the Eastern Conference title.
The Carolina Hurricanes trail the Bruins by nine points for the top seed in the East. The 'Canes arguably are the Bruins' top threat in the conference and need a center. Horvat would have been an ideal fit down the middle for the Hurricanes and made them an even tougher matchup for the Bruins than they already are in their current form. The Hurricanes beat the Bruins 4-1 on Sunday night, extending their win streak over Boston at PNC Arena to six games.
Horvat not going to other top teams in the East such as the Toronto Maple Leafs, Tampa Bay Lightning and New Jersey Devils is a win for the Bruins, too.
The Bruins could potentially play the Islanders in the first round of the playoffs. The Islanders entered Monday two points behind the Pittsburgh Penguins for the second and final wild card playoff spot in the East. If the Bruins finish atop the conference standings, which is expected, they would play the second wild card team in Round 1.
Which forwards should B's pursue with Horvat unavailable?
The Bruins could use another goal scorer on the wings. Nick Foligno has cooled off offensively after a strong start to the season. Jake DeBrusk is recovering from a reported fractured fibula. Craig Smith has given the B's very little scoring. Taylor Hall has scored just two goals in his last 20 games. A.J. Greer has been inconsistent offensively. All of these situations combined represent a need for additional scoring depth on the wing.
A middle-six center, preferably with a left-handed shot, would be a nice addition to Boston's roster as well.
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Which forwards could the Bruins target to address these areas?
We highlighted five of them last week, including Horvat. The other four were Arizona Coyotes center Nick Bjugstad, Columbus Blue Jackets winger Gustav Nyquist, St. Louis Blues center/winger Ivan Barbashev and Chicago Blackhawks center/winger Max Domi. All four of those players can play multiple positions and provide valuable scoring depth for the playoffs.
For a more in-depth look at each player, click here.