With every day that passes, it seems a new report emerges about the lack of progress in Bo Horvat extension talks. Today, Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet writes that “it’s not trending well.” Horvat is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of this season.
Of course, some of the same things were said this summer about the Vancouver Canucks and J.T. Miller, before the two sides eventually agreed on a seven-year, $56MM extension that includes a full-no-movement clause through 2026-27. Most insiders at the time had expected the Canucks to trade Miller instead of extending him, something that obviously didn’t happen as the veteran forward instead cashed in with a deal that includes $8.5MM in signing bonuses the first year.
So, until he actually hits the open market or is traded, things could change with regard to Horvat. But it is Miller’s contract that might end up forcing the Canucks to move on. The team is not good enough to contend for the Stanley Cup right now, despite a pair of crazy victories in recent days, and also has several expensive, underperforming contracts on the books.
Miller is still scoring at a good clip but has been anything but consistent this year, and Oliver Ekman-Larsson’s deal looks like one of the worst in the league as he plays through his age-31 season. The veteran defenseman will carry a $7.26MM cap hit for another four more years (and that’s not counting the portion the Arizona Coyotes are retaining).
Signing Horvat, then, would just add more money onto the pile without actually improving the Canucks roster. There’s no doubt that the 27-year-old center will be commanding more than his current $5.4MM cap hit in a new deal, especially after scoring 20 goals in his first 20 games this year. Goal-scoring centers are some of the highest-paid commodities in the league, as seen by Miller’s massive extension after a career-best 32 goals in 2021-22.
It should be noted that Horvat does not have trade protection in his current deal, meaning the Canucks could auction him off if necessary. Friedman notes that Canucks president Jim Rutherford will likely wait until February to try and squeeze the most value out of any deal, and suggests Luke Schenn as another chip he could cash in.