Horvat (shoulder) sent on conditioning assignment

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The Vancouver Canucks have announced that center Bo Horvat (shoulder) will report to AHL Utica to begin a conditioning assignment.

Horvat, who was taken with the ninth overall pick in the 2013 NHL Entry Draft, has been rehabbing a shoulder injury that he suffered during a preseason game on Oct. 2. Although the Canucks obviously didn’t want Horvat to get hurt, the ability to send him to the AHL on a conditioning assignment is a bit of a unique opportunity for them as under normal circumstances, the 19-year-old would only be allowed to play in the NHL or returned to the Ontario Hockey League.

Once he’s healthy Vancouver will have to make a challenging decision as the team has depth up the middle. Canucks coach Willie Desjardins has suggested that using Horvat would mean that at least one of Shawn Matthias, Linden Vey and Brad Richardson would have to shift to the wing.

Even then he would likely be in a bottom-six role, which is something Horvat isn’t opposed to, but might make the Canucks balk when the alternative is to have him log plenty of minutes at the junior level.

The Canucks can keep him for a nine-game trial without burning the first season of his entry-level contract.