Bo Horvat says NY Islanders were always a top-five choice destination

Feb 4, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Pacific Division forward Bo Horvat (14) of the New York
Feb 4, 2023; Sunrise, Florida, USA; Pacific Division forward Bo Horvat (14) of the New York / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports

A little over a week ago, Bo Horvat knew he'd be playing in the NHL, he just didn't know for who and where that would be. Now that he's with the NY Islanders and signed long-term, he's expressed on end how grateful he and his family are for the peace of mind of knowing what their futures hold. However, prior to the trade, Horvat and his wife, Holly, had plenty of conversations of preferred destinations to live and according to the newest Islander, Long Island was always a top choice.

“My wife and I talked about this place a lot," Horvat explained. "(Long Island) was probably in my top-five right from the beginning just from what I’ve heard about it. Obviously, I don’t know the area too well, but I can’t wait to get to know it for eight years here.”

Horvat is on pace to have a career year having already eclipsed the 30-goal mark with 30 more games to play this season. However, despite his stellar on-ice performance, he's admitted it hasn't been an easy year for him and his family with the uncertainty as to what the future held for him and his family. Now that they have that clarity, the weight has been lifted from their shoulders.

“It’s a relief, to be honest with you," Horvat said. "It’s been a mental grind of a year to say the least. To finally lock it in and be set up, the unknowing was what was hindering me and my family the most. To be locked in here for eight years is special to me, special to my family and we can’t wait to get everybody here.”

Everyone knows how tight knit the Islanders locker room has always been. Horvat fits the exact mold Lamoriello has constructed in the Islanders locker room, so it should be no surprise his new teammates did all they could to make him feel a sense of belonging before the newest Islander even stepped foot on Long Island.

“Everyone’s been so welcoming. I feel right at home here," Horvat said. "All the guys have been great towards me and welcoming me. (They’ve) been shooting me text messages before I got here and I feel like I’ve known them for a little bit of time now, so I can’t wait to keep getting to know them.”

Horvat stating the Islanders were a top destination for him if he made it to unrestricted free-agency is a pretty big deal for the Isles organization who have mostly had difficulty reeling intop free agents. Having a state-of-the-art facility in UBS Arena certainly helps, as does the chance to play on a line with Mathew Barzal, but there's more to it that would have lured Horvat to Long Island if he wasn't here already.

“I think a lot of it had to do with culture, organization," Horvat stated. "I think they can win right now. Obviously, we have a little bit of a ways to go to make the playoffs. But, they have a great core group of guys here that know what it takes to win and I can’t wait to be a part of that for eight more years.” 

Looking ahead, having quite a few cornerstone pieces in Horvat, Barzal, Noah Dobson, and Ilya Sorokin bode well for the Islanders both on and off the ice. For starters, they'll be expected to perform better on the ice, but in the offseasons, having that core of players could certainly help lure some other top talent as well. It seems like it's already begun, too, as Horvat stated it was already on his mind. And if Horvat was already thinking it, it begs the question, what other top pending restricted free agents might be thinking the same?