The opening salvo of NHL trade season was fired on Monday afternoon, as the Vancouver Canucks sent forward Bo Horvat to the New York Islanders in a swap that included a conditional first-round draft pick and other pieces.
The Canucks also received forwards Anthony Beauvillier and Aatu Raty in the swap, according to a press release.
According to reports, the 2023 first-round pick the Islanders sent to the Canucks is top-12 protected, and if it isn’t sent to Vancouver this season, then it becomes an unprotected 2024 first-round selection.
Horvat has appeared in 621 career NHL games, all with the Canucks. In 49 games this season, he has scored 31 goals, already matching his career high, and has dished out 23 assists.
He is in the final year of a deal that is paying him $5.5 million, but with the Canucks well out of playoff contention, he was sent to the Islanders to help fortify their roster.
The Islanders are currently in sixth place in the Metropolitan Division, but they trail the Pittsburgh Penguins by just two points in the chase for a wild card spot in the Eastern Conference.
The trade illustrates the difficulty some teams may have in terms of moving rental pieces this season, with many teams bumping up against the league’s salary cap.
To make room for Horvat’s contract, the Islanders sent Beauvillier to the Canucks, carrying a price tag of $4.15 million in each of the new two seasons.
The 25-year-old winger has nine goals and 11 assists in 49 NHL games this season.
Raty has primarily played this season with the AHL’s Bridgeport Islanders, with seven goals and eight assists in 27 games. He has two goals in 12 games with the NHL’s Islanders after making his NHL debut this season.
The move was widely expected to be one of the first on the trade market as teams begin preparations for the early-March NHL trade deadline.
For the Blackhawks, players like Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, both of whom carry cap hits of $10.5 million, could be on the move, as could players on expiring contracts like Max Domi, Andreas Athanasiou and others.
In the case of Toews and Kane, both have complete no-movement clauses that would require them to sign off on any trade. It is expected that Blackhawks general manager Kyle Davidson will meet with both players and agent Pat Brisson at some point in the coming weeks to determine their future wishes.
The NHL trade deadline will arrive at 2 p.m. Central time on March 3.