Updated: Feb 14
By: JOE SIMILE / CHIEF SPORTS EDITOR
On January 30, the New York Islanders traded Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty, and a conditional first-round pick in 2023 for Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat.
This was Horvat’s first time being traded, as Vancouver drafted him in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft with the ninth overall pick. Horvat is on pace for a career year, already accumulating 54 points in only 49 games. Hiscareer high is 61 points, which he accomplished in 2019 in 82 games. Horvat has a positive +/- on the season, and is shooting a career-high 21.7%, and has been playing 20:49 minutes per game in Vancouver this season.
“It still hasn’t really sunk in yet” Horvat told the media about his trade. “But I’m getting more and more excited. I’m really anxious to meet the guys, and kind of get my bearings around the dressing room and start getting on the ice again.”
As for Long Island, “It’s a city that I don’t know a ton about, obviously”, the Ontario native said. “I know a couple of the guys, but just meeting all the new players, getting used to the new systems and just everything, the culture there, it’s really nerve-racking.”
“I’m not gonna lie. I’ve never been traded before. So this is different for me, and I’m really excited.”
Horvat joined fellow first-time All Star and Islander Brock Nelson at All Star weekend this past weekend. When asked about seeing fans already wearing Horvat Islanders jerseys, the All Star said “It’s really heartwarming. To see fans actually have my jersey on already, and it’s been not even what, four or five days?... I’m just really fortunate that I’m going to an organization (that has) a passionate fan base.”.
Horvat and his two-year-old son Gunnar both donned his Islanders jersey over the weekend, with Horvat saying “I thought I looked good out there in an Islanders jersey. I was really proud to be wearing it.”
Horvat will be wearing 14 for the Islanders, opposed to his iconic 53, which is taken by his new teammate Casey Cizikas. The number 53 holds a lot of meaning to Horvat, as he wore it in honor of a fallen teammate, a goaltender who wore 35.
However, his new number has a special meaning as well. Horvat used a math equation to arrive at 14. Four plus one equals five. Four minus one equals three.
In regards to Horvat joining the team, Nelson stated, “He’s gonna bring a huge element to our team up front, depth, scoring. He does a little bit of everything. Kills, power play, five-on-five. So he’s gonna be a huge part of our team. That’s a big move for us, a big move by Lou to kinda try to get things going.”
The NHL’s most revered star, Connor McDavid, also had high praise for Horvat this past weekend, stating “He’s gonna be somebody that brings it each and every night, somebody that can play at both ends of the rink. Obviously he’s having a career year scoring goals. Defensively, he’s solid. He’s great on the kill. Obviously his faceoff numbers speak for themselves. They’re kind of getting somebody that can do it all.”
The Islanders traded for Horvat in hopes of jump-starting their struggling offense. The Islanders are 24th in the NHL in goals scored, opposed to their 12th ranking in goals allowed. Bo Horvat’s 31 goals and 54 points would both be high marks for the Islanders, with not a single Islander scoring even 20 goals thus far.
His 23 assists would be third on the team, behind stars and future top linemates Mathew Barzal and Brock Nelson. Horvat’s face off percentage of 56% would also be second on the team to third liner Jean-Gabriel Pageau. Horvat will fit seamlessly into the Islanders’ system, as a two-way forward he’ll slide in perfectly to Lane Lambert’s system.
The Islanders announced a contract extension for the pending free agent on February 5, locking him up for $68 million over 8 years. There was previous concern among the fanbase regarding how open Horvat would be to an extension, and Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello quickly put that to rest, investing in Horvat into his late 30’s.
Räty was another top prospect for the Isles’, with thehockeywriters.com ranking him as the 45th best prospect in hockey. This trade likely results in the Islanders’ system grading out among the worst in the NHL. The Islanders currently sit at 25-22-5 with 55 points, good for 6th in the Metropolitan Division. The Islanders still have playoff hopes, being seven points behind the Rangers in third place in their division, and two two points behind the Penguins, who would be the final Wild Card and 8th seed if the season were to end today.
Räty is a play-driver on offense with good size and speed. He made his NHL debut for the Islanders this year, appearing in 12 games for a total of 105 minutes, scoring two goals on 16 shots. He was once discussed in the same vein as Owen Power, who went #1 overall in 2021.
However, he struggled during his draft year, and fell to the Islanders in the second round with the 52nd pick. Räty totaled 40 points in 41 games while bouncing back in his native Finland. Räty will head to the AHL Abbotsford Canucks, and will likely remain there for the rest of the season as the Canucks begin the “major surgery” needed for their roster.
Beauvillier was either loved or hated by Islander fans, while he showed glimpses of the potential that convinced the Islanders to draft him in the first round in 2015, his production did not match the promise. He struggled defending his zone, which has stuck out like a sore thumb for the defensive minded Islanders. He has struggled especially over the past two seasons, only scoring 12 goals last year and only nine this season. The change of scenery in Vancouver may be what Beau needs to bounce back, but only time will tell.