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Bruins should target Bo Horvat at trade deadline


What is our first inclination when considering the trade deadline for a Bruins team that is 30-4-4?

Be careful. Don’t spoil a big thing with overreach at the deadline. Just add some depth.

But this notion disappears in a few seconds.

Players like Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews or Timo Meier or Jakob Chychrun could move — and maybe to an Eastern Conference contender near you. Desperation still lurks in Toronto. Carolina has already had a bump in Max Pacioretty’s return. Tampa always seems to find a way to make a splash. A Kane reunion with Artemi Panarin would move the needle significantly for Rangers.

No, the Bruins need to go all-in, just like Patrice Bergeron and David Krejci did when they signed their incredibly team-friendly one-year contracts. What the Bs have done so far is close to historic, but it may be undone by a key spring injury or two. We all know what playoff attrition looks like. General Manager Don Sweeney must do everything in his power to guard against this.

But while most speculation has focused on the 34-year-old Kane, he is not the player the Bs should put high on their priority list.

That player is Bo Horvat from Vancouver.

It will be expensive to get the Canucks left shooting center. He’s 27, at the height of his career, and he’s a shooter. In 37 games, he has a total of 28-15-42.

But if Sweeney could somehow do what he did with Taylor Hall and Hampus Lindholm, his last two forward acquisitions that he was able to extend to long-term deals, there’s not much in system B which should be considered forbidden.

That should mean their best prospect Fabian Lysell is on the line. And no, it’s not an overreaction here to his pointless junior world championship tournament which ended for him on Thursday with a five-minute major for a head control. As disappointing as the tournament was for Lysell, his 8-11-19 totals in 20 AHL games at Providence are no mirage. He’s still a top-six prospect and his potential inclusion in a deal would be hard to swallow for the Bs, who lack capable (i.e. cheap) young players they can squeeze into the squad. NHL roster. But you have to give to receive.

As hard as it is for the Bs to drop Lysell, he alone wouldn’t get a player of Horvat’s caliber. They should drop their first-round pick, which would be – if the Bs want to get where they want to go – in the 30s. While that would make things easier from the B’s perspective, it also means more would be needed .

Their second-round pick is now in the hands of the Anaheim Ducks, thanks to the Lindholm deal. The preference here would be not to drop centers Matthew Poitras (2nd round, 2022) or Brett Harrison (3rd round, 2021). Both are better than a point per game with their respective junior teams. But if one of them succeeds, so be it. There’s also forward Georgii Merkulov (7-17-24 in 29 games) and goaltender Brandon Bussi (10-2-3, .935 save percentage, 2.12 GAA) at Providence. There’s goalie prospect Philip Svedeback (4th round, 2021) in Providence.

Other teams have more assets, of course, but the B’s are not completely devoid of them. And given the position they find themselves in, the Bs should be ready to stretch a bit further than most teams. Whatever the combination of picks and prospects, it should be doable if Sweeney and the B’s are willing to grossly overpay.

It is rarely advised. This is a rare opportunity.

The trick, of course, would be if the Bs could extend Horvat, who will get the best contract of his career, wherever he signs. The Bs already have one of those elite players they haven’t dealt with before in David Pastrnak.

But if they could calculate the dollars and cents, a Horvat acquisition wouldn’t be a home run, it would be a grand slam. That would provide a short-term boost to a true Stanley Cup contender and a long-term top-six center for the days Bergeron and Krejci are gone. It could be as early as next season.

Still, while there are no long-term guarantees on Horvat, this team is worth the short-term splurge. A Horvat-Krejci-Pastrnak line would be awfully formidable, not to mention an entrenched Taylor Hall-Charlie Coyle third line.

The impressive team Sweeney has assembled, led by the coach he hired in Jim Montgomery, plays with a bold, safe is dead attitude. It must match.



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