Despite the disappointment of falling short at the World Junior tournament, Bo Horvat is still having an incredible season. The Canucks’ 9th overall pick in the 2013 draft is racking up points while continuing his strong defensive play, doing his best to justify the high price paid to draft him.
With 47 points in 31 games, Horvat is 10th in the OHL in points-per-game, establishing himself as one of Canada’s best junior players. He combines elite defensive play with good offensive instincts, but what has been most eye-catching about Horvat is is hands, which are far silkier than his initial scouting reports indicated.
Horvat has a devastating toe drag as well as quick hands in traffic, but his move on Sunday against the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds is simply unreal.
The play starts at the Greyhounds blueline, when winger Matt Rupert tips the puck in for the London Knights. Horvat is quick onto the attack, lifting the stick of number 32 for the Greyhounds, Tyler Gaudet, and stripping him of the puck.
That sends Horvat in one-on-one against 18-year-old, draft-eligible defenceman Tyler Hore, who will have to hope this play doesn’t make it onto the scouting reels of any NHL teams.
Horvat initially looks like he might shoot, so Hore rushes across to get his stick in the shooting lane, but Horvat has something else in mind. He quickly draws the puck back away from Hore’s stick, then drags it through Hore’s legs, leaving him alone against the goaltender.
The move is so quick that on first viewing it’s hard to tell exactly what he does. In slow motion, it becomes apparent, however, as you can see Horvat go from forehand to backhand to forehand with blazing speed, leaving Hore no chance whatsoever to recover from trying to block a shot that never came.
Horvat makes the rest look easy, calmly going to the backhand to lift the puck over Matt Murray, who is currently third in the OHL in save percentage and goals against average, and was a third round pick of the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2012.
How good is this goal? It temporarily turns the colour commentator into John Garrett, as he can only mutter, “Wow, oh” when Horvat scores. Then, when he tries to describe Horvat’s move on the replay, he’s left just saying “Woop woop woop.” He spent the rest of the broadcast repeating those words while spinning around on the floor like Homer Simpson.
This is just a clinic from Horvat: he out-battles Gaudet, undresses Hore, and casually beats one of the best goaltenders in the OHL. It’s okay, you can get pumped about this guy, particularly when you consider that the attribute that seems to get scouts the most excited about Horvat is his defense.
This raises a good question: if Horvat can do this kind of thing offensively, and that’s secondary in scouts’ minds to his defensive play, just how good is he defensively?Tags: Bo Horvat