The New York Islanders have agreed to an eight-year contract extension with recent trade acquisition Bo Horvat. The terms of the contract have not been officially disclosed at this time, but Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman reports that the extension carries an $8.5MM average annual value. The deal will keep him under contract until he is 36 years old.
As reported by NYI Hockey Now’s Stefen Rosner, Islanders General Manager Lou Lamoriello had the following to say regarding this newly-signed extension: “It’s too long and it’s too much money.”
Lamoriello also noted that the contract was finalized as the first order of business this morning. When the Islanders initially acquired Horvat, the team had not yet discussed the framework for a contract extension.
The contract extension comes after the Islanders made a surprising trade to acquire the former Vancouver Canucks captain. The Islanders, who are already paying contracts with term attached to four centers, were not one of the teams most expected to be in the mix for Horvat’s services.
Given what the Islanders gave up to acquire Horvat, though, (a first-round pick Anthony Beauvillier, and prospect Aatu Raty) it makes sense that the team would be interested in retaining Horvat beyond this season.
The presence of Mathew Barzal ($9.15MM through 2031, kicking in next season), Brock Nelson ($6MM through 2025), Jean-Gabriel Pageau ($5MM through 2026) and Casey Cizikas ($2.5MM through 2027) didn’t stop Lamoriello from taking out his checkbook to pay for another pivot. With Horvat locked into the team’s forward core for the rest of the decade, it seems one of those Islanders will at least in the short term switch to the wing.
Horvat earns this max-term contract extension on the heels of the best offensive season of his career. Horvat’s career high in points is 61, and with 54 in 49 games this season he looks on pace to fly past that mark.
He already has 31 goals this year, which matches his previous high that he set last season. A two-time All-Star, Horvat is respected across the NHL for his leadership and two-way ability. Horvat has served as the Canucks’ captain for the past four years.
In his one taste of playoff action, he scored 12 points in 17 games, leading the Canucks to an upset victory over the St. Louis Blues in the first round and then through a seven-game dogfight where they nearly knocked off the first-seeded Vegas Golden Knights.
The playoffs are exactly where the Islanders are hoping to end up with Horvat, and despite long odds for this season this extension seems to be the franchise doubling down on their short-term competitive goals. It was only a short time ago that the Islanders looked like the second-best team in the NHL, losing back-to-back Eastern Conference Finals to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the latter series going all seven games.
At the moment, the Islanders sit sixth in the Metropolitan Division with 25-22-5 record and 55 points. While they’re technically just two points back of the Pittsburgh Penguins for the final Wild Card spot, the Penguins have three games in hand, and the Buffalo Sabres (who are above the Islanders with 56 points) have two games in hand.
Even if the Islanders fail to make the playoffs this season, it’s true that this extension will improve their team’s odds of getting there in subsequent seasons. Horvat is an unquestionably talented player and someone who can be a great second-line pivot on a contending team. The Islanders have Barzal as their incumbent first-line center, though it’s possible that this signing shifts Barzal to Horvat’s wing.
Horvat is one of the league’s better players at the faceoff dot, and has won 56% of his draws this season. In contrast, Barzal has won just 35.9% of his draws. Should head coach Lane Lambert prefer a better face-off man as his first-line center, Barzal could very well end up on the wing moving forward.
The Islanders have quite a few pricey contracts for veteran forwards on their books, and this deal only adds to it. Barzal, Nelson, Pageau, Anders Lee, Josh Bailey, Kyle Palmieri, Ryan Pulock, and Adam Pelech are all under contract beyond this season at above a $5MM cap hit. Horvat adds an $8.5MM hit on top of that and leaves the Islanders in a relatively precarious salary cap position.
With so much of their core locked into contracts, the team has been left with precious little wiggle room to make changes and upgrades to their roster. A rise in the salary cap would benefit them enormously, especially as Ilya Sorokin is scheduled to hit unrestricted free agency in the summer of 2024.
This is an Islanders team that has severely underperformed relative to what their veteran players have been capable of producing in the past. If Lambert and his coaching staff can get a few of these underperforming veterans to pick things up, then this can be a very competitive team in the near future.
But that’s far from a given, and many of their players have been trending downward for multiple seasons. Such a trajectory might cause some franchises to consider pivoting toward younger players and building toward another competitive window. Other franchises, like the Islanders here with this extension, choose to acquire more veteran talent to supplement the players they already have.
There’s no exact right answer to the question of what to do with an underperforming team. There are major risks to trading quality players for draft picks and prospects, and the allure of a low-pressure rebuild can shroud the very real possibility that the prospects acquired don’t pan out and the draft picks selected don’t meet expectations.
Building a competitive NHL team is hard. It’s a steep challenge, and while Lamoriello himself stated that the price tag attached to this deal is a bit high, it’s also unavoidable. Giving talented players contracts that might be somewhat unsavory is simply the cost of doing business in the NHL. if a team wants to get better, this is usually the area of the market they need to shop in.
Is this extension risky? Absolutely. The Islanders could continue their downward trend and be locked into another pricey contract for an aging veteran. The deal would absolutely be a setback. But looking at things more generously, Horvat could be exactly the kind of player the Islanders need to spark a team-wide resurgence.
Although those long-term question marks linger, the Islanders have unquestionably improved with Horvat’s acquisition. With this Horvat extension, they have ensured the source of that improvement doesn’t end up leaving for another team in just a few months, which is a bit of business that’s difficult to complain about.
Bo or Miller to the same deal I wonder who I’d rather have…. Oh Van your so bad
This is far too much money I am a Lou fan but he’s got this one wrong. It won’t age well.
Anything over $7,000,000 was an overpay.
It’s pretty in line with what he would have received on the open market. Narzal? Now that was an overpay….$9.15M/oer for a guy who has scored 20 goals once in five seasons.
Let’s be honest, Lou doesn’t really care about the Horvat term or dollars, because he’ll be gone long before it all plays out.
Of course it’s not going to age well … max term deals almost never do. But what does Lou care? He’s 80 years old, and almost certainly going to be out of hockey (if not six feet under) by the time this bites the Islanders in the a$$.
I like Horvat but that contract is going to age horribly.
Wait…. Lou said it was too long and too much money?
I thought it was an accurate quote haha
Career high is 61 points. Until a contract year. Maybe.
I can’t believe Lou still has a job. He is running the Islanders into the ground.
Terrible to say but Lou legit probably won’t be alive to see the end of the contract let alone still employed by the islanders
Smart by Bo
His numbers are going to stagnate in NY and I’m sure he ends with 40goals.
FA he gets maybe 7.5 per. Most people can see the career year
Too bad he didn’t wait for Columbus. Would have been a better fit with better wingers.
Too much for too long, and I am a Bo fan. 5 years at 7.
Definitely a Bo-ver-pay. He’ll have a tough time living up to this one, but he can say, “I got paid!”
I’d downthumbs you if I could!
@pawtucket—Yeah, I know.
Way, way, way to overpaid. So happy that the Bruins didnt make the mistake that the Islanders ended up making. Most overrated player in the league by far on a contract year spells no good for the long term viability of his career.
Heh, Boston *couldn’t* have made that mistake … not without deciding they were going to acquire and give the money to Horvat instead of to Pasta. Which, of course, would be well beyond dementia.
Does Lou know . He had a choice he could have offered less term and money. Lou playing to great people from suburbs saying players fault they make to much. Like any of them would not get as much as possible. Love sports owners cry poor have strikes and lockouts. Then who finds the loopholes first Guys like Lou I.E. Kovalchuk contract. lmao. Wonderful life living do as I say not as I do. lol
Like this wasn’t already discussed prior to the trade
Even if he was right: Boy, that’s some terrible behavior and a really bad spin, calling your new acquisition an overpay on day one. Even if he was right.
What kind of message does this send to the player? To the locker room? To the fans? There could be a reasonable sense of hope and we-can-do-it for the stretch. But cynic GM opts to spiral downwards.