PENTICTON, B.C. -- Center Bo Horvat signed a six-year, $33 million contract with the Vancouver Canucks on Friday. It has an average annual value of $5.5 million.
"I'm really excited about this," Horvat said. "I've loved Vancouver for the first three years and I want to thank Jim (Benning, Canucks general manager) and Trevor (Linden, Canucks president) and the Acquilini family (owners) for believing in me and trusting me. I'm happy to spend the next six years here and help this team win."
Horvat, 22, who was a restricted free agent, led the Canucks in goals (20) and points (52) last season. It was the first time since 2005-06 that Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin did not finish first and second in scoring for Vancouver. Horvat had 32 assists, 10 power-play points and two shorthanded goals, and played in the 2017 NHL All-Star Game.
"It's been kind of a whirlwind here in the last couple of days," Horvat said. "I'm obviously happy with it and I'm ready to get things going and start the next six years."
Benning said Friday that the Canucks and Horvat's agent, Mark Guy of Newport Sports, negotiated in earnest for four months before reaching agreement. The process included exploring two options: a two-year bridge and longer term.
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"We looked at what a bridge deal was like and what a six-year deal looked like," Benning said. "At the end of the day, when we got to the number on the two-year deal, we then kind of switched to see what a six-year deal looked like. We were happy with the number on the six-year deal, and obviously Bo and his camp were happy, and we're happy to get it done."
The longer term fits Horvat's plan.
"We weighed both options, but at the end of the day I love Vancouver, the city and the organization," he said. "This is where I wanted to be for a long period of time and a six-year deal was attractive to me."
That the negotiation process wasn't complete until a week before the opening of training camp wasn't a worry, Benning said.
"This was an important signing for us to set the standard," he said. "Bo is a leader of this young group of players we have coming. If you look at all the RFAs this summer, they all took their time to get done."
Selected by the Canucks with the No. 9 pick in the 2013 NHL Draft, which was acquired from the New Jersey Devils in the trade for goalie Cory Schneider, Horvat has 117 points (49 goals, 68 assists) in 231 NHL games.
He said the summer had a few anxious moments.
"Some parts of it, you're like, 'What's going on?'" Horvat said. "And you're calling your agent and saying, 'Is it getting close?' or 'What's happening?' But they did a great job informing me pretty much every time they talked and telling me what happened and how it went and just to be patient, that in negotiations this is what happens all the time.
"They kept me calm and cool. Maybe towards the end a little bit I was getting more antsy, but for the most part I was pretty relaxed. I totally stayed out of it. I let my agent handle that kind of stuff and I sat back and enjoyed the summer and waited until the phone rang."
Horvat said the increasing attention he received from opponents last season pushed him to a stronger focus on the future.
"Even more so toward the end of the year," he said. "It's something I'm going to have to get used to. And I want to be that guy playing against the best players and playing in key situations."