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The Vancouver Canucks signed restricted free agent Bo Horvat to a US$33-million, six-year contract extension Friday.
The 22-year-old centre led the lowly Canucks with 52 points (20 goals, 32 assists) last season to become the first player not named Daniel or Henrik Sedin to top that category since 2006.
Horvat’s new deal, which kicks in immediately, has an average annual value of $5,500,000, making him the fourth-highest paid player on the team behind the Sedin twins and winger Loui Eriksson.
“Bo has quickly become a foundational player on our team and we’re thrilled for him to be a part of what we’re building here long term,” Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a release. “His commitment and work ethic have helped his game improve each season. He’s already a leader on our team and a young player fans can be excited to watch for years to come.”
A native of Rodney, Ont., Horvat has steadily improved over his first three NHL seasons. He has 49 goals and 68 assists for 117 points over 231 career games.
“It’s a great feeling to be able to continue my career for six more seasons in Vancouver and I’m grateful to the Aquilini family and Canucks management group for making this possible,” said Horvat. “Since being drafted by the Canucks, I have been welcomed by fans with open arms and I’m incredibly proud and fortunate to call this city and province home. I couldn’t be more excited to help this team win.”
The ninth overall pick in 2013 — a selection acquired from the New Jersey Devils in the trade for goalie Cory Schneider — Horvat thrives on the 200-foot game and is capable of playing in any situation on any line.
If he wasn’t already, the new contract makes Horvat the face of a Canucks’ rebuild that also includes forwards Sven Baertschi and Markus Granlund, defencemen Ben Hutton and Troy Stecher, and prospects Brock Boeser, Olli Juolevi, Thatcher Demko, Jonathan Dahlen and Nikolay Goldobin, among others.
The club’s lone representative at last season’s all-star game, Horvat is also viewed by many as the captain-in-waiting in Vancouver whenever the tenure of Henrik Sedin, who along with brother Daniel turns 37 at the end of the month, comes to an end.
The Canucks finished 29th in the NHL’s overall standings in 2016-17 with a franchise-low 178 goals that cost head coach Willie Desjardins his job. Vancouver, which has missed the playoffs three of the last four years, promoted Travis Green to coach from the AHL’s Utica Comets at the end of April.
The Canucks open training camp at Rogers Arena on Tuesday.
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