The New York Islanders were in need of some offensive assistance, and they got it by acquiring veteran center Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks on Monday. Horvat definitely adds firepower to the Islanders’ top six, but is it too little too late for a team that has a steep hill to climb in order to reach the playoffs? Let’s break it down.
Islanders trade grade: C+ — The Islanders sent a top-12 protected first-round pick, Anthony Beauvillier and prospect Aatu Raty to the Canucks in exchange for Horvat. In doing so, the Islanders were able to address their biggest need. Over the last month, the Islanders have struggled mightily to find the back of the net. Since Jan. 1, the Isles have scored just 29 goals, which ranks 30th in the NHL. That lack of offense has resulted in the team going 4-8-3 in that stretch, and it has fallen out of a playoff spot.
Enter Bo Horvat, who is currently in the middle of a career year. In 49 games this season, Horvat has scored 31 goals while adding 23 assists. That is the type of production the Islanders have sorely lacked all season. Even though Horvat’s scoring binge may be buoyed by an unsustainable 21.7% shooting percentage, he makes the Islanders much more of a threat to light the lamp.
In a vacuum, this trade makes perfect sense for the Islanders. They needed goals, and they got a player who loves to score. That being said, the Islanders did give up some valuable future assets for a player on an expiring contract, and their playoff chances have dwindled dramatically of late. Although the Islanders are just two points out of a playoff position, they are 10th in the conference when it comes to point percentage, and the Detroit Red Wings and Florida Panthers are hot on their trail.
With Horvat in the mix, I wouldn’t be surprised to see the Islanders go on a bit of a run after the All-Star break and work their way into a wild card spot. After all, they don’t need to score that many goals with Ilya Sorokin in net.
It should be noted, though, that the Islanders haven’t drafted in the first round since 2019, and giving up a first-round selection really becomes a risky proposition. Beyond the draft pick, Raty was rated as the Islanders’ No. 1 prospect, according to The Athletic. Raty was the No. 52 overall pick in the 2021 NHL Draft, and he projects to be a solid top-nine center. Even though Raty hasn’t been pegged as a future superstar, effective centers don’t exactly grow on trees.
Canucks trade grade: B — From the Canucks’ perspective, trading their captain signals a major shake-up in terms of on-ice personnel. Vancouver has already made a coaching change, and Horvat seemed to be the most obvious trade candidate. Losing Horvat will be a tough pill to swallow, but getting what could be a relatively high first-round pick and Raty will go a long way toward helping the Canucks start their rebuild, retool, or whatever it is they’re calling it these days.
Vancouver also received Beauvillier, 25, and he is an interesting middle-six forward. Beauvillier is having a bit of a down year in 2022-23, but he has shown the ability to score at a 20-goal pace so far in his young career. Beauvillier has one year left on his contract at $4.15 million, and that gives the Canucks some options next season. If Beauvillier bounces back, Vancouver could either sign him to a contract extension or trade him to a team in need of some scoring depth.
Credit to Islanders general manager Lou Lamoriello for getting aggressive and fixing one of his team’s major issues, but at this point in the season, this deal is a decent gamble. If the Islanders are able to make the playoffs and extend Horvat, then this deal probably looks much better for them, but the Canucks will score better on the report card for now because of the return.