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Canucks' top prospects bond on and off ice

Monday, 09.09.2013 / 2:31 PM / Prospects

By Ryan Dittrick - NHL.com Correspondent

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Canucks' top prospects bond on and off ice
Vancouver Canucks first-round picks Bo Horvat and Hunter Shinkaruk have become linemates and friends during the Young Stars Classic.

PENTICTON, British Columbia -- As the Young Stars Classic finished Monday, Bo Horvat couldn't help but look back on how he ended up playing here with the Vancouver Canucks.

Horvat was chosen by Vancouver with the ninth pick of the 2013 NHL Draft -- a selection that belonged to the New Jersey Devils until they sent it to the Canucks in a trade for starting goaltender Cory Schneider.

It was a moment he'll never forget.

"It was absolutely crazy," Horvat said. "I couldn't even really process what was happening. When you're sitting there hoping to hear your name called, playing the different scenarios in your mind, that's certainly one I didn't see coming. It was a huge shocker to all of us and to the hockey world.


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"Looking back on it now, it's still pretty amazing how it all unfolded that day. But I couldn't be happier with how it all turned out. It's a great situation for me."

The trade put an end to a lengthy goaltending controversy in Vancouver, but also put Horvat in a potentially uncomfortable spot -- but one that he's handled with aplomb.

"Bo handles the pressure like no one else I've ever seen," fellow prospect Hunter Shinkaruk, who was chosen with the Canucks' first-round pick (No. 24) in the same draft, said. "He knows his name will forever be linked to that trade, but he doesn't worry about it. His single focus is on playing his game and improving as a hockey player. He's one of the most driven individuals I've ever met."

Horvat, a center, had 33 goals and 61 points last season with the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League. He had 16 goals and 23 points in 21 OHL playoff games and was named playoff MVP after leading the Knights to their second straight OHL title and a berth in the Memorial Cup.

Heading into the draft, he was regarded as one of the most complete players available.

"I was given an incredible opportunity to succeed in London," Horvat said. "We won the championship in back-to-back seasons, which always helps things, but it's been a great place to develop and become a professional."

Horvat and Shinkaruk signed their entry-level contracts Aug. 6. They've played on the same line in Penticton and have become inseparable off the ice as well.

"We've become great friends," Horvat said. "We went through the draft experience together and have been a part of so many different things since, so it's appropriate that we're getting the chance to skate together and develop some chemistry on the ice.

"It's a testament to what the organization is building. All 30 of us are becoming a team, on and off the ice. That's what this is all about. We're a family here."

Fellow Canucks prospect Jordan Subban, a defenseman chosen in the fourth round (No. 115) in June, understands the value of family better than most. He's the youngest of three brothers carving their own paths in pro hockey. His oldest brother, P.K., won the Norris Trophy with the Montreal Canadiens last season; Malcolm, the middle child, is a goaltending prospect with the Boston Bruins after being taken with the 24th pick in 2012.

"It was very special," Subban said when asked about being drafted. "I'd been to a couple other drafts and I think it's fair to say it was a completely different experience for me. Having my name called by Vancouver was tremendous. They're also a Canadian team, which made that much more special.

"My brothers are really supportive. I honestly believe that was the best part of the draft. When you can share the experience with those that mean the most to you and have helped you throughout your career, it's awesome. Even now, if I ever need some advice or someone to talk to, my brothers are always there for me."

Subban had 15 goals, 51 points and a plus-22 rating with the Belleville Bulls of the OHL last season. After a strong showing in Penticton, he'll be heading back for another full season in a more prominent role on the Bulls' blue line.

"It's obvious that things are happening a split-second faster [at this level]," Subban said. "Getting to experience that will be huge for me going forward into this season. My goal is to go back to Belleville and take what I've learned here so I can come back and have an even stronger tournament next year.

"[The Canucks are] a first-class organization, and ever since I've been drafted they've been great. It's been a great experience, so I'm trying to soak up as much as I can while I’m here."

Horvat couldn’t agree more. The 18-year-old native of Rodney, Ontario, scored a goal (assisted by Shinkaruk) in Vancouver's first game, against the San Jose Sharks, and was looking to finish strong in Monday's finale against the Winnipeg Jets.

"Getting the chance to put on the Canucks jersey for the first time and play with all these top prospects has been incredible," he said. "We're all fighting for jobs, so it's definitely been intense, but it's been a fantastic experience and I'm really happy to have been here."

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