Bo Horvat made massive strides last season, elevating his game as the season went on in his impressive rookie campaign. This season, he’ll look to carry that momentum with him and expand his game as a dynamic two-way centre.
After breaking onto the Canucks’ roster in early November, many people, including Willie Desjardins, were concerned whether the 19-year-old was ready to play in the NHL. Horvat began the season on the 4th line and played decent in a defensive role with limited minutes, while proving to be the best faceoff man on the team.
After the All-Star break was when Horvat really kicked things up a notch and he began to showcase his offensive potential. His confidence grew and he began to show well offensively quicker than most people expected, scoring 10 goals and 7 assists over the final 37 games. Horvat improved his skating and was noticeably faster on the ice. The Canucks’ rookie continued his strong performance right through to the playoffs where he looked dangerous offensively, picking up 4 points in 6 games.
With Brad Richardson signing with Arizona as a free agent in the offseason, Horvat will get an opportunity to be the Canucks’ third line centre this year. And with Brandon Sutter in front of him, it might not be long before Horvat assumes control of the second line pivot role. With that being said, management and fans will have higher expectations for Horvat this season. That comes with additional pressure that can be difficult to take for some young players.
The key for Horvat this year will be to play with confidence and produce offensively like he did in the second half of last season. Horvat is a tremendous player in his own end and will be looked towards for taking key faceoffs, but for him to advance his game and gain a bigger role, he needs to keep adding to his offensive game. He will have an advantage in this regard thanks to the fact that he will be playing with more offensively capable linemates (apologies to Derek Dorsett).
This upcoming season could be a huge stepping stone for Horvat, who will look to match the high expectations that will be set for him. Horvat has a bright future and this season we will see how close he is to fulfilling his potential.