The subject of today’s profile is center Bo Horvat, an excellent prospect who has been playing in the OHL with the London Knights in the past two seasons.
Age: 18 (Born April 5, 1995)
Weight: ~200 lbs
NHL CS: 15th among American skaters
Hockey Prospectus: 14th
Future Considerations: 23rd
Bo Horvat seems to be one of those kids who’s projected to be drafted somewhere around the No. 10 pick. I’ve seen some mocks that have him going in the top eight while others have him dropping to the top 20. Whatever the case, Horvat is one of the best centers available in this draft class, and there’s a good chance that Dallas could get him.
Horvat has been playing his last two seasons with the London Knights, the OHL champions of the past two years, and his stock has been steadily rising since the beginning of this season. Horvat played an enormous part in the Knights’ triumph this season. He had a breakout regular season, scoring 33 goals and dishing out 28 assists before tearing it up in the playoffs.
He had 16 goals and seven assists in the playoffs and scored the game-winning (and title-winning) goal in the very last seconds of Game 7. He ended up having three of the four game-winning goals for the Knights in the OHL final. For his efforts, Horvat was awarded the Wayne Gretzky 99 Award, which is given to the playoff MVP.
Horvat is a great two-way player, possibly the most complete forward in the draft, and he’s obviously got the leadership qualities that teams covet.
He’s excellent in the defensive zone and works hard for the puck. A big plus to his game is his faceoff ability, which was among the best in the OHL. Horvat is one of those guys who you can rely on to take those important defensive-zone faceoffs.
In the Western Conference final against the Plymouth Whalers, London leaned on Horvat to shutdown Vince Trochek, the regular season points champion in the OHL (109 in 63 games, one point ahead of Charles Sarault, who had 108 in 68 games). Horvat was a big reason why Trochek was held to just three points in the five-game series.
Horvat’s strength is his defense, but his offense certainly isn’t something to dismiss, as evidenced by his season this year with London. He’s a very smart player and will work into the areas around the net for the clean-up goals.
He’s average to above-average with his skating and playmaking skills, but that’s been improving and should continue to do so with time. He’s got a solid shot and should be a consistent, but not prolific, scorer on the offensive side of the ice.
Why Draft Him?
Horvat would fit in well with Dallas. Horvat’s a tough, defensive-minded center with plus offensive skill, and he seems destined for a leadership role for whatever team he goes to. Dallas has been going for those two-way players lately, and Horvat more than fits the bill.
With the defensive troubles that the Stars have right now, someone like Horvat could pay big dividends down the line. Dallas just doesn’t have a center they can count on for defense, with Eakin perhaps being the best, and Fiddler is getting into that “too old” range.
There are some good center prospects in the system, but the Stars could always use more, especially if they want to move Jamie Benn back to the wing. A reliable defensive-minded center would be great for this team.
Horvat is a low-risk pick. He’s most likely a second-line center in this league, at worst a third, and can play valuable minutes on the penalty kill and work all the d-zone faceoffs. Dallas had issues last season in the dot, and Horvat could be a big boost there. Wherever he ends up, he will contribute a bunch to his team.