For all the talk of J.T. Miller’s future with or without the Vancouver Canucks, it’s been easy to overlook the fact that captain Bo Horvat will also be an unrestricted free agent (UFA) come the summer of 2023. The 27-year-old stalwart and the team’s 9th-overall NHL Draft pick in 2013 is finishing out his second deal with the club, a six-year contract that paid him an average of 5.5-million per season.
It’s actually $250,000 more per year than Miller is making. Horvat’s increase won’t be nearly as lofty, but he’s definitely deserving of a raise especially coming off a season in which he banged home 31 goals and added 21 assists. Should we expect that kind of red-light production this next season? Probably not, but much depends on Miller’s future and where everyone slots.
One could expect a deal in the $6.25 to $6.5-million seasonal range long-term for Horvat, a player that could be a Canucks lifer. Give him eight years, through to age 36, and bring that cost down a tick. As it stands, that’s likely something local fans wouldn’t mind at all. Given an increased NHL salary cap next season, some say in the $1-million range, Horvat’s new deal will slide in somewhat seamlessly.
It’s the rest of the wheelings and dealings that are of concern as it relates to fitting in the other pieces moving forward. That’s why Miller doesn’t fit and the team is unlikely willing to make the sacrifices necessary to make it happen. Even with a ‘home town’ discount, the Canucks are looking at somewhere in the middle/high eights ($$) to keep him around.
Just as the Miller speculation grows, don’t be surprised if you see a Horvat resolution sooner than later. Finding a reasonable number and signing a deal for the captain will mean a number of things. Piece of mind for player, team, and fans starting the season, a stabilizing factor and a long-term commitment that would serve as an example in other negotiations, and a bona fide presence in the two or three slot in the middle of the ice, again, depending on who else is playing the pivot.