Please forgive my baseball analogy with a title alluding to a little boy asking “Shoeless Joe” Jackson if he was part of the Chicago Black Sox scandal of 1919. No, the Canucks are not accused of being part of some insidious cheating ring that will haunt the NHL for a hundred yeas to come. However, the Vancouver Canucks seem to be on a mission to destroy themselves in any way possible. Forget about their on-again, off-again performances on the ice: the Canucks’ organization appear to be in a mood to conduct a fire sale and get rid of as many players as possible.
With a team struggling to build an identity in the Pacific Division (e.g. relevancy). the Vancouver Canucks are one of the most talked about teams in terms of trade possibilities. In my last article, I talked about the rumor mil swirling around potential trades for Brock Boeser and wouldn’t be surprised if he’s wearing another team’s sweater before the March 3rd trade deadline. With a huge salary cap hanging over his future in Vancouver, trading Boeser seems more and more likely as each day passes and now a matter of when as opposed to if the trade takes place.
As a result of the daily contract and trade drama hanging like a giant albatross over this franchise, it comes as no shock that this team seems lost in the mire of the Stanley Cup playoff race. It should be noted that head coach Bruce Boudreau has helped turn around this turn somewhat and with a 13-14-3 overall record, the Canucks are, well not terrible but I would gather that Boudreau isn’t satisfied with striving for mediocrity either. To be fair to this organization, the players and coaching staff have found a way to pull themselves out of last place but the Christmas season is a critical time to make a potential playoff move and the only hint of moves within this franchise are trade rumors.
Will this be Bo Horvat’s swan song with the Canucks?
Bo Horvat and his camp started contract extension talks last summer before training camp opened up and while Horvat claimed he just wanted to keep playing, the weight of any contract negotiations has to weigh heavy on Horvat. Wearing the Canucks’ “C” carries extra responsibility for the team captain and Horvat certainly hasn’t allowed the contract controversy to bear down on his on-ice performance. In reality, Horvat’s having a career season and with 22 goals and nine assists in 30 games, he’s proving that he’s a top-line center.
The crux of the problem is that Horvat may be a top-line center outside of Vancouver as well. Horvat’s original contract going back to the 2017-18 season called for a six year, $33 million dollar deal with an annual average value of $5.5 million dollars and Horvat hit the salary cap this season as his signing runs out next summer. With the contract extension of J.T. Miller last summer worth $56 million dollars over seven years, the Canucks sent a strong message that Horvat wasn’t necessarily worth as much in terms of long-term value to this franchise.
Are the Canucks really in a trading mood heading towards the NHL deadline?
To make matters worse according to the Horvat camp, the current offer from the Canucks comes out to an eight-year deal worth an average of $5.125 million dollars. Wait a minute, did you catch those numbers? Horvat’s current annual average has been $5.5 million while the Canucks want to lower his salary down to $5.125 million dollars each year on average? Why would a team captain and solid top-line center want to take a salary cut just to stay with a team struggling to make it to .500? According to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, the Canucks seem to be in a mood to talk about trades for many of their top players including Bo Horvat.
While names such as Elias Pettersson and Quinn Hughes seem to be off-limits right now, savvy fans certainly know that there’s no such thing as “off limits” when it comes down to big-time trade negotiations. The big question still remains as to who will still be wearing a Canucks’ sweater come March 3rd? In reality, Canucks’ fans may have to face the reality that their team captain could possibly be facing his final days in Vancouver and that other key players could be on their way out the door as well.