Extending Bo Horvat
Remember the concern and worry about not extending Bo Horvat after the blockbuster trade was made a month before the deadline? Well, not only did Lamoriello do it, but he also did it before Horvat ever hit the practice ice with the Islanders. It took just six days for the GM to execute his stated goal, locking up Horvat long-term, pairing him with Mathew Barzal for the next eight seasons at $68 million, and adding another high-character player to the fabric of the core group.
The move was a must for Lamoriello after trading Anthony Beauvillier, 20-year-old prospect Aatu Raty, and a protected 2023 1st-round pick to Vancouver for the former Canucks captain. The trade was viewed as high risk outside of the Islanders circle because the potential for the Islanders to both miss the playoffs and miss out on extending Horvat was viewed as a possibility, one that would've set back the franchise after trading their top prospect and another first-rounder with an already shallow prospect pool.
“The core here with Horvy is just going to do wonders, said Barzal after the extension was announced. “I think we're going to have a great eight years together. We're all excited. This was a big spark for sure."
But after the Barzal injury, things could have gone in a very different direction for the Islanders than the 14-7-2 record the team posted. If Horvat remained unsigned, the uncertainty around his long-term future on Long Island would've grown, as would've speculation that without Barzal, Lamoriello should flip him again at the trade deadline rather than play out the season on a team that was unlikely to make the playoffs.
However, the Islanders won three of their first four games without Barzal and started playing the structured style of a play that had served well in the past. Horvat adapted easily to that new style at provided stability at the center position that made a playoff push possible. By extending Horvat as soon as he did provide a signal to everyone in the room that this player was here for the long-term and help the room believe that they could still win games in Barzal's absence with one of their newest team leaders, one desperate to return to the playoffs, as part of the fold.