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

If the Canucks begin to slide in the standings, five points out of a Western Conference wild-card playoff spot entering Monday, they may be looking to make some strides as they look 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.

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

If the Canucks get to the point where they aren’t sure if Horvath will re-sign, they would be smart to trade him and not risk losing such a good player in free agency. It was reported earlier this month that Horvath turned down Vancouver’s latest offer.

What would the Canucks want in any Horvath trade?

“They have specific needs, and maybe it starts with cap space if you look at next year’s roster for the Canucks,” TSN’s Darren Dreger said last week. “They would like to add a young NHL center and they would also like to add a young NHL defenseman with a right shot. Those are the three specific needs of the Canucks.”

Dreger added: “The interesting thing about Bo Horvath is that there’s no timeline on it. If the right deal comes along, that trade could happen in the very near future, after the holiday roster freeze or move to March 3rd.”

The Bruins don’t have many good young centers. It’s a position they haven’t been able to cultivate and develop for nearly a decade. Brett Harrison (2021 third round) and Matthew Poitras (2022 second round) are having solid seasons in the OHL, but both are far from NHL ready. As for the young right tackle, Brandon Carlo could qualify, but the 26-year-old is a much more defensive-minded player and not a ton of offense. Connor Clifton is having a strong season as a right tackle, but he is by no means the size of the player who could have been a key player in the Horvath trade.

Why does Montgomery think the Bruins aren’t playing very good hockey right now?

Boston can’t help Vancouver with salary either. The B’s can’t afford a bad contract because they only have $53,735 in cap space, per CapFriendly.

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

Horvath would likely be a great fit in Boston. He’s the type of two-way center who can play a significant 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 Horvath will also be difficult for the Bruins. They are tight on the cap this season and likely will be in 2023-24 as well, especially if David Pastrnak is re-signed to a massive extension.

So while it would be great for the Bruins and exciting for the fans if a Horvath trade were to happen, it just doesn’t seem likely based on the above factors.


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