Frozen Pool Forensics: Bo Horvat

by Cam Robinson on January 29, 2016

Bo Horvat is on fire but can you trust it for the rest of the season?

There have been four months’ worth of players featured on this column since I took it over and not a single one from my hometown, Vancouver Canucks. Well that all changes today. This week we are looking at second year centre, Bo Horvat and the progression he has shown early on in his professional career.

 

Being known as the player traded for Cory Schneider is a heavy burden to carry. Schneider has established himself as one of the true workhorse goaltenders in the game today. If he was on a better team, odds are he’d have some more Vezina nominations to his credit. However, Horvat has done his part in helping the Canucks fans forget about the Boston College alumni.

 

Last season, Horvat made the NHL as a 19-year-old when Willie Desjardins made it clear he did not want any teenagers on his squad. Despite seeing fourth line minutes and virtually no power play time (0:16/per game), Horvat managed to earn the trust of his coaches and peers and post a solid rookie season totalling 13 goals and 25 points in 68 games. His four points in six playoffs games may not have done justice to the freshman as he was the Canucks’ best player throughout most of their first round loss to Calgary.

 

Fast forward to this season and the sophomore slump had its cold, gnarly hands wrapped all over Horvat. Through 39 games, he had a mere 10 points and was a minus-17. He hadn’t scored a goal in two months. All that changed with the turnover to 2016. Since the calendar flipped, Horvat has seven goals and 12 points in 12 games and has formed a very consistent and threatening partnership with fellow-youngster, Sven Baertschi. Using Dobber’s Line Combinations Tool, we can see the two players have seen a good amount of time together at both even-strength and on the power play.

 

Frequency

Strength

Line Combination

22.27%

EV

BAERTSCHI,SVEN – HORVAT,BO – VRBATA,RADIM

6.15%

EV

BAERTSCHI,SVEN – HORVAT,BO – VIRTANEN,JAKE

5.49%

EV

BAERTSCHI,SVEN – HANSEN,JANNIK – HORVAT,BO

5.14%

SH

HANSEN,JANNIK – HORVAT,BO

5%

EV

BAERTSCHI,SVEN – BURROWS,ALEXANDRE – HORVAT,BO

3.91%

EV

HIGGINS,CHRISTOPHER – HORVAT,BO – VRBATA,RADIM

3.3%

EV

BURROWS,ALEXANDRE – HORVAT,BO – VIRTANEN,JAKE

2.73%

EV

DORSETT,DEREK – HORVAT,BO – PRUST,BRANDON

 

 

Using Dobber’s Report Generator, (one of the coolest tools on Frozen Pool) from January 1st until present day, Horvat ranks ninth in league scoring, and seventh in even-strength production. Just to add a further feather in his cap, Horvat is the youngest player on this list by three years, and has played the fewest games besides league leader, Patrick Kane.

 

Top 10 Point Categories: January 1st-present

Points accumulated during all situational strengths.

Rank

Name

Pos

Age

Yrs

Team

GR

GP

EV

PP

SH

PPG

Total

1

KANE,PATRICK

R

27

7

CHI

29

14

13

4

0

1.21

17

2

KUZNETSOV,EVGENY

C

23

0

WSH

33

10

10

6

0

1.60

16

3

THORNTON,JOE

C

36

16

S.J

34

12

11

4

0

1.25

15

4

CROSBY,SIDNEY

C

28

9

PIT

33

11

9

5

0

1.27

14

5

KOPITAR,ANZE

C

28

8

L.A

33

12

9

5

0

1.17

14

6

LETANG,KRISTOPHER

D

28

8

PIT

33

10

7

6

1

1.40

14

7

SPOONER,RYAN

C

23

2

BOS

33

13

10

3

0

1.00

13

8

MALKIN,EVGENI

C

29

8

PIT

33

11

6

7

0

1.18

13

9

HORVAT,BO

C

20

0

VAN

32

12

8

4

0

1.00

12

10

BACKSTROM,NICKLAS

C

28

7

WSH

33

10

7

5

0

1.20

12

 

Using the same feature, but looking at goal scoring, we can see that his seven goals place him third in the league behind only Sidney Crosby and Sam Bennett and tied with some pretty illustrious names.

 

Top 10 Goal Scoring Categories: January 1st-present

All situational strength goals and game winning goals.

Rank

Name

Pos

Age

Yrs

Team

GR

GP

EV

PP

SH

GW

Total

1

CROSBY,SIDNEY

C

28

9

PIT

33

11

4

4

0

3

8

2

BENNETT,SAM

C

19

0

CGY

34

11

7

1

0

1

8

3

HORVAT,BO

C

20

0

VAN

32

12

5

2

0

2

7

4

RYAN,BOBBY

R

28

7

OTT

32

12

5

2

0

2

7

5

KESLER,RYAN

C

31

10

ANA

34

11

4

3

0

1

7

6

EHLERS,NIKOLAJ

L

19

0

WPG

33

12

5

2

0

0

7

7

OVECHKIN,ALEXANDER

L

30

9

WSH

33

10

3

4

0

2

7

8

KANE,PATRICK

R

27

7

CHI

29

14

5

2

0

2

7

9

KUCHEROV,NIKITA

R

22

1

T.B

33

11

6

1

0

2

7

10

PERRY,COREY

R

30

9

ANA

34

11

7

0

0

0

7

 

A streak like this is promising, especially for a young player, but what can be expected of Horvat for the remaining 32 games? Taking a closer look at his numbers and his style of play, some red flags pop out. Despite his age, he is currently the Canucks’ best defensive player and is deployed as such. Horvat sees a miniscule 41.5 percent of his starts in the offensive zone and is given just 1:46 of power play time from the second unit. He is relied upon to take the majority of defensive zone draws and is operating at a 50.6 percent win rate, currently having won 455 total faceoffs – 15th most in the league. His importance in his own end will no doubt hinder him from achieving upper echelon point totals.

However, Horvat does display some impressive hands and his skating has gone from a slight drawback during his draft season to a plus feature of his current arsenal. He will continue to be given tough assignments, and as he grows and develops as a two-way player, a Patrice Bergeron-like career is attainable.

 

The Canucks have long been a team driven by the play of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, but as their career arcs slowly fade, Bo Horvat appears to be the next in line to handle the burden of the face-of-the-franchise moniker. From all appearances, he’ll be ready.

Projected point-per-game outlook for the remaining schedule: 0.5 – 0.7
 


Thanks for reading and feel free to follow me on Twitter @CrazyJoeDavola3