Where we stand after Bo Horvat trade


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The New York Islanders made the first big trade of the hockey season on Monday night, acquiring former Vancouver Canucks captain Bo Horvat for Anthony Beauvillier, Aatu Raty and a conditional first-round pick. Horvat’s name had been on the market all year, so it wasn’t a surprise he got dealt, but few people would have thought the Isles would be the team that landed perhaps the biggest name out there.

The Islanders are already deep at center and are far from a lock to make the playoffs, so there was plenty of skepticism about the Lou Lamoriello trading future assets for a player who will need a contract extension.

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While you can certainly poke holes in the long-term strategy and fit, you can’t deny that adding Horvat does unequivocally make the Isles a better team right now. The Islanders are desperate for goals — they’ve scored 29 in their last 15 games — and need to improve their power play. Horvat, who has 31 goals this season with 11 on the man advantage, should help the team improve in both areas immediately.

Usually, when a team makes a big splash like this, the betting market perks up, and we see the odds shorten. But in this instance, there’s been minimal odds movement for the Isles. The Islanders were +300 to make the postseason when the deal went down, and they’re sitting at that same price at the time of writing.

Bo Horvat
Bo Horvat
Getty Images

Why is the market not budging despite the Islanders landing perhaps the best player on the market?

For one, the betting market has been pretty sour on the Islanders all season. If you monitor the price on the Isles on a game-to-game basis, you’ll notice more often than not that money comes in against them. This trade could help change that sentiment eventually as it addresses the team’s most glaring need, but bettors will want to see results before they start believing that the Isles’ offensive woes are fixed.

But if they are fixed, even just by a bit, it could be a pretty big boost for Lane Lambert’s side. Thanks to their goaltending tandem, the Islanders are actually a top-10 team when it comes to five-on-five goal difference. The Isles’ +17 mark puts it just behind the Tampa Bay Lightning and ahead of playoff-bound teams such as the Rangers and Winnipeg Jets. In fact, the Islanders are the only team inside the top 10 in five-on-five goal difference that isn’t in a playoff spot right now.

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What that tells us is if the Islanders were even slightly below average on the power play instead of horrible — they are 3 for their last 64 on the man-advantage and 0-for-25 since Jan. 10 — they could be ahead of the Penguins or Capitals in the playoff race.

The trade for Horvat should provide a boost for the Islanders in a tight playoff race in the Eastern Conference. On paper, it will go a long way to fix what has been ailing the team for the past two seasons.

But the fact that acquiring a star player did not cause the Isles’ price to shorten tells us exactly what the betting market thinks about this team: It’s more than just one player away.

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