Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports
More than a month before the 2023 NHL trade deadline on March 3, top target Bo Horvat is off the board.
On Monday, the
Vancouver Canucks dealt their 27-year-old captain to the New York Islanders in exchange for the three pieces they’d been rumored to covet: a 25-or-under player they can use now in winger Anthony Beauvillier, a quality prospect in 20-year-old center Aatu Raty and a first-round draft pick (top-12 protected in 2023; otherwise, it shifts to 2024).
With Horvat’s unrestricted free agency looming on July 1, it was believed he and the Canucks were close to a
contract extension last summer. But a deal wasn’t consummated, and before long, his name occupied a prominent spot at the top of trade-bait boards.
Now, the deal is done. And if the return pans out for Vancouver GM Patrik Allvin in his first big trade at the helm, the swap will be a foundational pillar of a rebuild for the Canucks, who have been spinning their wheels for more than a decade.
Echoes of History
In many ways, the deal echoes a Canucks trade from 25 years ago, which sent Trevor Linden to the New
York Islanders in exchange for Todd Bertuzzi, Bryan McCabe and a third-round pick that was used to select Jarkko Ruutu.
Horvat currently has his family with him in Florida and was preparing to represent the Canucks at the
All-Star Game this weekend. On Feb. 6, 1998, Linden was about to head to the Winter Olympics in Nagano, Jpn., as part of Team Canada when his trade announcement came down.
A franchise icon during some strong years in the early ’90s, Linden was captain of the Canucks for seven seasons. He gave up his ‘C’ when Mark Messier arrived on the scene in the fall of 1997.
Within six months, Linden fell out of favor with a new management group. But as trade bait, he was still highly regarded. The
return in his deal brought back the future star Bertuzzi and the solid defenseman McCabe, who became part of the trade package that allowed the Canucks to draft Daniel and Henrik Sedin second and third overall in 1999.
After further stops in Montreal and Washington, Linden was dealt back to Vancouver in 2001, where he finished his career. He
returned to the organization as president of hockey operations for four seasons between 2014 and 2018 and makes his home in the city to this day.
Eric Hartline-USA TODAY Sports
Captains on the Move
It’s relatively uncommon for captains to be
moved ahead of the trade deadline, but it does happen. Here are some of the more memorable deals of the past 30-plus years:
– March 19, 2022: On March 17, Philadelphia Flyers’ 10-year captain Claude Giroux was lauded for 1,000 games played with the team that drafted him back in 2006. Two days later, he was dealt to the Florida Panthers in a package that saw winger Owen Tippett and two draft picks come the other way.
Second in Flyers history behind Bobby Clarke in points, assists and games played, Giroux wasn’t in the
future plans for struggling Philadelphia after his contract expired at the end of the 2021-22 season.
With the Presidents’ Trophy-winning Panthers, Giroux put up 23 points in 18 regular-season games, then added eight more in 10 playoff games. But after a second-round ouster by Tampa Bay, Giroux
changed course for his hometown of Ottawa, where he signed a four-year deal.
– Feb. 26, 2018: After announcing a plan to rebuild, the New York Rangers traded their captain, Ryan McDonagh to the Tampa Bay Lightning along with current Canuck J.T. Miller in exchange for three players and two draft picks. With one additional year remaining on his contract, McDonagh signed a new seven-year deal with the Lightning and won two Stanley Cups before being dealt to Nashville for salary-cap reasons on July 3, 2022.
– March 5, 2014: A captain-for-captain trade, with the Rangers dealing Ryan Callahan to the Lightning in exchange for Martin St-Louis.
Callahan was an impending UFA and re-upped with the Lightning on a six-year pact. He played his final games in 2019, then had the last year of his contract dealt to the
St-Louis had one year remaining on his deal when he was traded. During his brief stint on Broadway, the Rangers
reached the Stanley Cup final in 2014, then won the Presidents’ Trophy in 2015 before being knocked out of the playoffs by the Lightning in the 2015 Eastern Conference final.
Three draft picks were also included in the trade, including the 2015 first-rounder that was later dealt from the Lightning to the Islanders, who used it to select new Canuck Beauvillier at No. 28.
– March 27, 2013: In his ninth year as captain of the Calgary Flames and the last year of his contract, Jarome Iginla was dealt to the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for two depth players and a 2013 first-round draft pick, which became Morgan Klimchuk.
Iginla put up 11 points in 13 regular-season games in Pittsburgh, then added 12 points in 15 playoff games before the
Boston Bruins swept the Penguins in the Eastern Conference final. He then signed with Boston as a free agent that summer.
– Feb. 4, 2010: In his first year as captain of the Atlanta Thrashers, impending free agent Ilya Kovalchuk was dealt to the New Jersey Devils in a package that saw three players and two draft picks come back to Atlanta. The two picks were flipped to Chicago and became Kevin Hayes and Justin Holl.
Then the Devils GM, Lou Lamoriello signed Kovalchuk to a 15-year, $100-million contract on Sept. 3, 2010. The deal was terminated on July 11, 2013, as Kovalchuk returned to Russia for five
seasons before returning to the NHL as a member of the Los Angeles Kings in 2018.
The Devils were hit with a $3-million
cap-recapture penalty after terminating the contract, at $250,000 per season spread over 12 years, ending in 2024-25.
– March 6, 2000: In his 15th year as captain of the Boston Bruins, Ray Bourque requested a trade to a playoff contender. The Bruins sent Bourque and Dave Andreychuk to the Colorado Avalanche in exchange for three players and a first-round draft pick in 2000.
After the Avalanche were eliminated by the
Dallas Stars in the 2000 Western Conference final, 39-year-old Bourque returned for one more season. He retired after memorably hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2001.
– Feb. 25, 1997: Devils GM Lamoriello acquired third-year Toronto Maple Leafs captain Doug Gilmour as part of a five-player swap. The Devils lost in the second round of the playoffs in 1997 and the first round a year later. Gilmour signed with the Chicago Blackhawks as a free agent in the summer of 1998.
– Feb. 27, 1996: Wayne Gretzky, in his seventh season as captain of the Los Angeles Kings, was traded to the St. Louis Blues in exchange for three players and two draft picks, including a first-rounder in 1997.
Gretzky was awarded the captaincy in St. Louis but played just 18 regular-season games and 13 games in the playoffs, where the Blues lost to the
Detroit Red Wings in the second round. On July 21, 1996, Gretzky signed a two-year free-agent contract with the New York Rangers.
– March 4, 1991: Ron Francis spent five years as captain of the Hartford Whalers before the ‘C’ was re-assigned to Randy Ladouceur at the beginning of the 1990-91 season. Before the end of the year, Francis was on the move to Pittsburgh along with defensemen Ulf Samuelsson and Grant Jennings in exchange for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski.
The trade paid immediate dividends for the Penguins, who won back-to-back Stanley
Cups in 1991 and 1992 and is now regarded as one of the most lopsided in NHL history. Francis stayed in Pittsburgh until 1998 before returning to the Whalers franchise, this time in its second year in Carolina.
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