Why the New York Islanders Will Not Flip Bo Horvat

New York Islanders, Bo Horvat. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
New York Islanders, Bo Horvat. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images) /

Monday saw the first big trade of the NHL deadline season. The Vancouver Canucks, expected to be sellers, shipped off captain Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders for a conditional first-round pick, Anthony Beauvillier, and Aatu Raty, the top Islanders prospect finally getting some NHL time.

The Islanders have been in desperate need of an offensive boost. Still, this is a very bold move for a team currently outside of a playoff spot.

Hockey Twitter was surprised to see UBS Arena as Horvat’s final landing spot. Some joked, at least I think the Athletic’s Dom Luszczyszyn was joking, about the prospect of flipping Horvat at the deadline.

It did bring up memories of an ill-fated Islanders trade of the past: when then-general manager Garth Snow acquired Thomas Vanek.

The Islanders surprised everyone by trading for Bo Horvat.

For those who need a little refresher course in recent hockey history, here is the story. During the 2013-2014 NHL season, the Islanders made a flashy early-season trade for Buffalo Sabres pending unrestricted free agent Thomas Vanek.

Vanek suited up next to John Tavares and Kyle Okposo and all seemed fine. That is until the Islanders found themselves at the bottom of the Metropolitan Division and Vanek refused to sign a long-term deal.

He was shipped off for pennies on the dollar to the Montreal Canadiens at that year’s deadline.

Luckily for Islanders fans, the Horvat trade might have a happier ending than the Vanek debacle. For starters, there’s much less time for things to go wrong and for Horvat to be shipped off a second time.

Vanek was traded to the Islanders on October 27, 2013 and was shipped off to Montreal on March 5, 2014. Horvat and the Islanders have much less time, about a month before this year’s March 3rd deadline, for a sage similar to Vanek’s to play out.

Also, there’s seemingly less time for Islanders general manager, Lou Lamoriello, to both increase Horvat’s value and find another trade partner. Remember, the Islanders traded Vanek out of desperation, because their master plan of signing him to an extension blew up in their face.

Lamoriello is much more calculated and cautious with his moves. He would never take a risk as big as Snow’s.

Speaking of Lamoriello brings me to my second point. Lamoriello has had success in re-signing his big-name deadline acquisitions to new contracts and contract extensions.

First, there was his 2020 trade and extension for Jean-Gabriel Pageau from the Ottawa Senators, which seemed uncharacteristic at the time. That same year Lamoriello also traded for his former New Jersey Devils captain Andy Greene and signed him to another one-year contract.

Following that, there was the 2021 trade acquisition of Kyle Palmieri from the Devils. The Islanders stayed pat at last year’s deadline. Some even expected them to be sellers last season.

If that pattern means anything, Lou would be working on a contract extension to keep Horvat in New York for the foreseeable future.

Also, fun fact, Horvat was the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Draft. Vancouver got that pick in a trade with the Devils for goaltender Cory Schneider. Who was the general manager of the Devils then? Lou Lamoriello. Also, Schneider is currently in the Islanders organization as well.

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Who “wins” this trade is largely dependent on if Horvat signs an extension. Right now, Vancouver is the winner, not so much because of their trade haul, but because they no longer risk losing Horvat for nothing. Now that’s a problem for Lamoriello and the Islanders.