Horvat remains unsigned, but Linden’s optimistic

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We’re closing in on training camp at this point and Bo Horvat is still a restricted free agent. That’s not something that seems to concern Canucks president Trevor Linden, who feels the two sides aren’t far apart.

“We’ve had some good conversations with Bo and his reps … we’re moving along and I don’t see any issues,” Linden told TSN 1040 (H/T to the Score).

The Canucks and Horvat have taken their time exploring a lot of different options, ranging from two-year to eight-year contracts. It’ll be interesting to see what route they ultimately take.

Horvat had 20 goals and 52 points in 81 contests in his third campaign in the NHL. He only celebrated his 22nd birthday in April so it’s not unreasonable to believe he still has untapped upside left. So while a bridge contract would be the safer option, the Canucks might ultimately be better off if they can find a way to ink him to a long-term deal.

If a lengthy contract is the goal, then part of the reason it’s taken this long might be the relative lack of good comparables. If you’re talking about forwards who signed a five-year deal or longer off their entry-level contract, then you don’t have a lot to choose from. This summer the examples of that are Jonathan Drouin, Leon Draisaitl and Connor McDavid. Draisaitl and McDavid are obvious non-starters, but Drouin is less so given that his 21 goals and 53 points mirrors Horvat’s 2016-17 production fairly well.

Drouin is generally seen as having more offensive upside though, but he also has less NHL experience than Horvat. Drouin’s contract was a six-year, $33 million deal so it would be interesting if Horvat was hoping to get something similar, citing his similar productive last season as the primary argument.

If you went back to the summer of 2016 then you could pull on examples like Victor Rask, who signed a six-year, $24 million deal after recording 21 goals and 48 points in his sophomore season as a center. Or Vincent Trocheck, another center that got a six-year, $28.5 million contract after getting 53 points after his third NHL season and first full campaign. Those might be the contracts that the Canucks point to if the two sides are heading towards a long-term deal.

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