(AP) It’s no secret the New York Islanders need more scoring if they hope to return to the playoffs.
Bo knows a thing or two about that.
The Islanders on Monday acquired center Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks in the first blockbuster of NHL trade deadline season.
The Islanders sent forward Anthony Beauvillier, top prospect Aatu Raty and a top-12 protected first-round pick in the 2023 draft to the Canucks for the someone general manager Lou Lamoriello called “a complete player.”
“He brings a two-way game, used in all situations, and without question is on the verge of having a career year but has over the past several years been a 30-35 goal scorer,” Lamoriello said. “And I think that’s going to add to certainly a need for us.”
Horvat, 27, is a pending free agent and was one of the top rentals available ahead of the March 3 deadline. He said there hasn’t yet been any talks about a contract extension, which Lamoriello expressed confidence about agreeing to at some point.
“It’s all happened so fast,” Horvat said. “We’ll see if we can get something done, but I’ll leave that to (agent Pat Morris) and everybody to handle that.”
The former Canucks captain, who was chosen to represent them at the NHL All-Star Weekend, could give the Islanders the scoring boost they’ve needed. Horvat has already tied his career high with 31 goals this season and also has 23 assists in 49 games.
“(I have been) going to the right areas and putting myself in positions to score those goals or make those plays,” Horvat said.
Horvat has 420 points in 621 regular-season NHL games and is also on pace to shatter his career-best season in scoring.
New York ranks 25th out of 32 teams in scoring at 2.85 goals a game, is second worst on the power play and currently sits two points out of a playoff position in the Eastern Conference.
“You make this type of a transaction because you can improve your team today and tomorrow,” said Lamoriello, who added the Canucks retained 25% of Horvat’s salary to even out the salary cap ramifications with Beauvillier.
“And in my opinion he makes us a better team and gives us a better opportunity to (do) what we want to do.”
Horvat has 12 more goals this season than the next-closest Islanders teammates: fellow All-Star Brock Nelson and captain Anders Lee, who each have 19 at the break.
When his season resumes next week, Horvat will not have to wait long to face the team that drafted him ninth in 2013 with the pick acquired from New Jersey for goaltender Cory Schneider — a trade Lamoriello made when he was GM of the Devils. The Islanders host the Canucks on Feb. 9.
“That is going to be an interesting game to say the least,” Horvat said. “It’s a game that I already circled on my calendar and I can’t wait to play.”
Dealing Horvat is the latest shakeup for Vancouver, which recently fired coach Bruce Boudreau and hired Rick Tocchet as his replacement. General manager Patrik Allvin said Horvat “has been a great leader and ambassador” for the team.
“As difficult as it is to trade away our captain, we are excited to add a high-quality 25-year-old winger in Anthony Beauvillier, a young center in Aatu Raty, and a protected first-round draft pick,” Allvin said in a statement. “These pieces will be a big part of our development and growth moving forward.”
Horvat’s camp and the Canucks were unable to agree last summer on a long-term contract. He said he expected to play his entire career with the organization.
“Things didn’t work out that way,” Horvat said. “It led me to this. I’m grateful for that, and I’m grateful the New York Islanders believe in me.”
Vancouver Canucks’ Bo Horvat prepares to take a faceoff during the third period of the team’s NHL hockey game against the Chicago Blackhawks on Tuesday, Jan. 24, 2023, in Vancouver, British Columbia. (Darryl Dyck/The Canadian Press via AP)