The 2017-18 season for the Vancouver Canucks has not had many bright spots. Injuries, poor performance, and inconsistency have made for a season that has been difficult to enjoy. However, one of the positives is the continued emergence of Bo Horvat. The 2013 9th overall pick is on a career-best pace, with 21 goals and 42 points in 61 games (a 28-goal and 58-point pace). While many thought he may develop into a third-line centre, Horvat has become an offensive driver on the Canucks. Going forward, there’s no reason to think he’ll slow down.
Bo Horvat Continues to Exceed Expectations
Upon entering the league, people had doubts about Horvat’s offensive upside. Despite strong junior numbers (74 points in 54 games in his draft year as a member of the London Knights), many pegged him as more of a defensive specialist. Some theorized his ceiling was that of a decent second-line centre, though far short of a game-breaker. This sort of rhetoric held true over the course of his first NHL campaign. A time in which he scored 25 points in 68 contests. However, since then Horvat has emerged as a dynamic offensive player and leader on the hockey club.
Horvat’s Offensive Progress
In 2015-16, Horvat began to see more responsibility. As the only young piece of note, he was thrust into a middle-six role with mixed results. He struggled initially but was able to finish the year with a very solid 40 points after finding chemistry with linemate Sven Baertschi. This put him behind only Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin in terms of point totals. Meanwhile, his 16 goals ranked third (behind D. Sedin and Jannik Hansen). That same year, he took home the fan-voted team award as the team’s Most Exciting Player, truly putting his name on-the-radar as a player to watch.
It was the next year that Horvat began to truly look the part of a core player. He scored a career-high 20 goals and 52 points, leading the club in both categories. He was again named the club’s Most Exciting Player, while also being named the team’s Most Valuable Player. Additionally, he began to see league-wide recognition. Horvat was named the Canucks All-Star representative, scoring two goals and four points in the tournament, and holding is own in the fastest skater competition (finishing ahead of players such as Nathan MacKinnon). His power and speed game came somewhat unexpectedly. Once thought of as slow, Horvat’s skating has become a strength of his game. Indeed, it was perhaps the difference between the player anticipated at the draft and the one that emerged in an otherwise horrid 2016-17 season.
What Comes Next
2017-18 brought more of the same in terms of growth. He put up career-highs in terms of pace and minutes. Horvat looks to grow into an even bigger role next season. With the Sedin twins recently announcing their retirement. Indeed, it has been impressive watching the 22-year-old exceed every expectation that has been set for him. While not what many had in mind for him, he has become an offensive catalyst. For an organization lacking in such talent, he has become a critical part of the equation.
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