It's been exactly one year since New York Islanders GM Lou Lamoriello acquired Bo Horvat from the Vancouver Canucks in an All-Star break blockbuster. The trade was supposedly a rare lose-lose deal, a circumstance of two teams in two different positions making a miscalculation that each would regret.
"It didn't feel real, to be honest with you," Horvat recalled to NHL.com. "It felt weird and yeah, just so many memories there and obviously started my career there, spent 9 1/2 years there [in Vancouver]. It felt weird to be on the opposite end of the rink, but it was cool. A warm welcome from everybody and it was really cool to be a part of."
It’s amusing to look back at much of the instant analysis following the trade and how negative the reviews were, not just for the Isles but for the Canucks, too. Vancouver was said to have moved one of the league's biggest trade chips for a good but not great package that was an underwhelming first move to ignite a retool.
Meanwhile, even with the assumption that Lamoriello knew he could (and would) sign Horvat to an extension, pundits were puzzled why an aging team that was out of the playoff picture would trade yet another first-round pick in an attempt to keep their closing contending window open.
Through the first half of this season, the predicted lose-lose has proven to be a win-win for each organization. While Anthony Beauvillier was already moved to Chicago and Aatu Raty is playing in the AHL, the Canucks used the 1st round pick to acquire D Filip Hronek from the Detroit Red Wings with a look ahead to this season. The 26-year-old has 33 assists and has solidified the blue line with Norris Trophy candidate Quinn Hughes. Along with JT Miller, Elias Pettersson, and Brock Boeser, Vancouver is among the highest-scoring teams in the league.
As for Horvat, after struggling to score goals last season, he settled into his new life on Long Island and onto a line alongside a healthy Mathew Barzal. He’s been as advertised this season and given the Islanders a true top-line and efficient power-play unit. His 20 goals are second on the team to Brock Nelson, and his matching eight-year extension with Barzal gives them the chance to become one of the more prolific duos since the dynasty years.
"Bo brings it every night," Barzal said. "One thing about his game is it's consistent. Plays hard every night, wants to score. He's obviously a huge piece of this team and you know when he's going it's a big boost to our group."
The teams made the trade for different reasons, but both would make it again and it's hard to imagine what the short and long-term outlook would be for the Isles without Horvat in the fold.