Having signed J.T. Miller on Sept. 2 to a long-term contract extension, determining Bo Horvat's future is the priority for the Vancouver Canucks. The 27-year-old center and team captain can become an unrestricted free agent next July.
A talented two-way forward centering the Canucks' second line, Horvat's netted 40-or-more points in six of his eight NHL seasons, including a career-best 31 goals in 2021-22. He's currently earning an average annual value of $5.5 million. Vancouver Hockey Now's Rob Simpson speculated Horvat could get between $6.5 million and $7.25 million on a long-term extension.
Sportsnet's Iain MacIntyre observed the Canucks are set at center with Miller, Horvat and Elias Pettersson, though the latter can also play on the wing. He and Simpson share the belief that the Canucks could have their captain under contract before the start of the season next month.
MacIntyre, however, wondered if the Canucks can afford to keep all three centers given their salary cap constraints. The Vancouver Province's Patrick Johnston shared that concern, suggesting the trade watch could be on for Horvat if an extension doesn't come soon.
Cap Friendly shows the Canucks already have over $68 million invested in 14 players for 2023-24. Pettersson will be eligible for a new contract in 2024 and could seek a substantial raise over his current annual cap hit of $7.35 million.
Any trade gossip about Horvat should be taken with a grain of salt. Miller, after all, was the subject of considerable trade chatter before signing his extension. However, a new contract for Horvat means the Canucks will have to make some cost-cutting decisions to free up space for next season.