The Toronto Maple Leafs Should Not Pursue Bo Horvat

VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 3: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks waits for a face-off during the third period of their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena on December 3, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images)
VANCOUVER, CANADA - DECEMBER 3: Bo Horvat #53 of the Vancouver Canucks waits for a face-off during the third period of their NHL game against the Arizona Coyotes at Rogers Arena on December 3, 2022 in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. Vancouver won 3-2. (Photo by Derek Cain/Getty Images) /
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The Toronto Maple Leafs are one of the many teams reported having an interest in pending unrestricted free agent Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks.

This makes sense, because Bo Horvat is on a very cheap, expiring contract, and is one of the best scorers in the NHL.  The Toronto Maple Leafs, and every single other team, probably have interest in acquiring him.

They shouldn’t.

The Toronto Maple Leafs should not get into a bidding war for Bo Horvat, and should set their sights elsewhere.

Toronto Maple Leafs and Bo Horvat

According to Rick Dhaliwal from CHEK News in British Columbia, Bo Horvat has rejected the Canucks final offer. Subsequently, Vancouver will now make Horvat available for trade.

Horvat would give the Toronto Maple Leafs a star forward who can provide reliable scoring outside of their “core four”  which is, presumably, what they have been looking for.

Only problem: Horvat is a center. There is no chance of him replacing Auston Matthews or John Tavares on either of Toronto’s top two lines.

Horvat is in the final year of his contract with a $5.5 million cap hit and as such, does not need to be factored into next season’s salary cap.

However, I don’t think the Leafs should invest heavily in a rental player like Horvat. I think they should pursue players with term left on their deals.
(Salary cap info from capfriendly.com)

There is obvious value in trading for a pending UFA, but if you’re going to spend assets, you get much better value for your money if you trade for players you can keep longer than one playoff run.

Just look at the cost of trading for Jake Muzzin vs trading for Nick Foligno –  the prices where not drastically different, but the Leafs had Muzzin for several seasons, while Nick Foligno was injured the whole time he was here.

It wouldn’t have mattered so much about spending a first round pick on Foligno if the Leafs had his services for an extra year.

It all comes down to the asking price. Depending on what the Vancouver Canucks want for Horvat will determine if I think trading for him is a good idea or not. The Toronto Maple Leafs do need to add secondary scoring but will get more in return if they trade for a player with one or more years left on their deals.

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However, when you consider the potential bidding war that could result in trying to trade for everyone’s first-choice, and the UFA factor, I think the Leafs could probably get a similarly valued player for a much lower cost, one who potentially will stick around longer than three months.