It’s no secret that the start of the 2022-23 campaign hasn’t gone according to plan for the Washington Capitals. Amid injuries and a 7-9-3 record, Washington faces several questions regarding the present and future. Could the answer be Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat?
On his latest “32 Thoughts” podcast, Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman threw the possibility out there, especially with the Capitals having a number of pending free agents and some flexibility salary-wise.
“Number one, they have to figure out: Is there any chance that Backstrom could play here?” he asked. I have to say if he can’t, I wonder if they become a Horvat team.
“The only thing is, he’s a scorer, Ovechkin’s a scorer. Backstrom is more the passer. Just something I was thinking about. These are things that are just popping into my head.”
So, right there, there doesn’t appear to be any official discussion or official rumors. At this time, it’s an idea, but one that does make quite a bit of sense.
Right now, things just aren’t clicking offensively for Washington. There’s little chemistry at 5-on-5, with the lines changing quite a bit, and the power play has taken a major step back and is just 1-for-23 in its last five games. That one PPG came at 6-on-4.
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So, the idea of bringing in star power like Horvat, who’s a pending free agent and doesn’t appear to be getting far in talks with Vancouver (though Rick Dhaliwal reports the goal is to re-sign him), is truly one that could be considered.
Through 17 games this season with the struggling Vancouver Canucks, Horvat has 14 goals and six assists for 20 points while winning 58.5 percent of his draws. The 27-year-old center also takes great care of the puck and can win face-offs (another area where D.C. is struggling). His two-way play is also solid, and he can force turnovers, make plays and produce.
As Friedman pointed out, though, the Capitals are missing a playmaker in Backstrom, and Horvat wouldn’t necessarily bring that. However, having him down the middle would certainly lead to assists.
Overall, something has to give for Washington. The team has dropped four of its last five decisions and isn’t finding a way to play a full 60 and has struggled to find offence, with a few exceptions of second and third-period outbursts. Horvat would bring a new look and perhaps even help the Capitals stop the rough starts and get consistent momentum going through 60 while giving them the star power they’re missing up front.
At the end of the day though, this also depends solely on Backstrom’s future. There would also have to put together a good package if there is a trade, and considering Horvat’s value, it may include high picks, top prospects or another star. So ultimately, there’s a lot to consider.