Canucks' reported asking price for Bo Horvat revealed; Should Bruins pay it?

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The Vancouver Canucks are an interesting team to watch as the March 3 NHL trade deadline approaches.

If the Canucks start to slide in the standings -- they are five points out of a wild card playoff spot in the Western Conference entering Monday -- maybe they look to make some moves with an eye toward the future.

One player worth monitoring is first-line center Bo Horvat. The 27-year-old veteran is in the final year of his contract and could be the best player to hit the free agent market in July. 

Horvat is having his best season as a Canuck. He ranks fourth in the league in goals with 22, and his 31 points in 30 games put him on pace to set a new career high for scoring.

If the Canucks reach the point where they're unsure if Horvat will re-sign, then they would be smart to trade him and not risk losing such a good player for nothing in free agency. It was reported earlier this month that Horvat rejected Vancouver's latest offer.

What would the Canucks want in any Horvat trade?

"They do have specific needs, and maybe it starts with cap space if you look into next year's roster for the Canucks," TSN's Darren Dreger reported last week. "They'd like to add a young NHL center, and they'd also like to add a young NHL right-shot defenseman. Those are the three specific Canucks needs."

Dreger added: "What's interesting on Bo Horvat is there's no timeline on this. If the right deal surfaces, that trade could happen in the very near future, after the holiday roster freeze or drift all the way to March 3."

The Bruins don't have many good young centers. It's a position they've failed to draft and develop in for about a decade. Recent draft picks Brett Harrison (2021 third round) and Matthew Poitras (2022 second round) are having good seasons in the OHL, but both of them are far from being NHL-ready. In regards to a young right-shot defenseman, Brandon Carlo would qualify, but the 26-year-old is much more of a defensive-minded player and doesn't contribute a ton offensively. Connor Clifton is having a strong season as a right-shot defenseman, but he's nowhere near the caliber of a player who would be a main piece in a Horvat trade.

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Boston can't help Vancouver with salary cap space, either. The B's are not in a position to take on a bad contract because they have just $53,735 in cap space, per CapFriendly.

The Bruins do have their 2023 first-round draft pick to use in any negotiations, but they've traded three of their last five first-rounders. They also don't own a second-round selection in 2023 and 2024. 

Horvat likely would be a great fit in Boston. He's the type of two-way center who could play a prominent role right now, and even more so when Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci eventually retire. The Bruins don't have another top-six caliber center on their NHL roster or in their prospect pool. 

Re-signing Horvat would be tricky for the Bruins, too. They're tight against the cap this season and likely will be in 2023-24 as well, especially if David Pastrnak is re-signed to a huge extension.

So, while it would be great for the Bruins and exciting for fans here if a Horvat trade happened, it just doesn't seem likely based on the factors above. 

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