Mike Gillis’s decision to use his recently-acquired 9th overall pick in the 2013 draft on OHL center Bo Horvat was met with some disappointment among the Canucks’ fanbase. It was understandable. After all, when you have the opportunity to select “Russian phenom Valeri Nichushkin” and you look him off to grab some dude named Bo, there’s gonna be grumbling.
The decison is somewhat defensible, even if the current optics — Horvat’s still in junior, while Nichushkin is on Dallas’s lethal top line — aren’t good. In today’s NHL, your team’s overall goodness correlates rather closely with your strength down the middle. Think of the league’s best teams in recent years: Boston, Pittsburgh, Chicago, Los Angeles, San Jose, and yes, even Vancouver. They all have one thing in common: elite centres. (Same goes for the league’s most productive wingers.)
For the Canucks to remain competitive, grabbing a centre projected to step into a top-six role down the line was more important than snatching up that year’s hot new import winger. That was the reasoning there, and it wasn’t, well, unreasonable.
Of course, the counterargument was simple: this Youtube collection of Nichushkin’s sexy highlights from Russia. Did Horvat have one of those? Didn’t think so. Way to blow it, Mike.
That’s not to say Horvat can’t contribute a Youtube-able goal, however. Why, he did so just Tuesday night. Feast your eyes on this lovely scoring play:
That’s an absolutely incredible show of skill and strength.
It begins at the red line, where Horvat takes a pass from Max Domi and starts towards the Kitchener end. But that’s when he realizes his defender has jumped up on him aggressively, trying to cut off his move to the wall. So he cuts inside with a wicked toe drag, and suddenly he has step, and a partial lane to the net.
All three Rangers in the frame try to tie him up, but Horvat’s a strong kid, muscling off two hooks before backhanding the puck into the goal.
s/t to Sean Leahy.
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