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Predators finally re-sign leading scorer Hornqvist…
- Updated: August 24, 2010
After a long wait, General Manager David Poile and the Nashville Predators have finally re-signed restricted free agent Patric Hornqvist.
Hornqvist was extended a qualifying offer back on June 28 and, today – just a mere 57 days later – SportBladet, a Swedish newspaper, is reporting the young Swede has inked a three year deal worth $3 million a year.
The three year deal is a little alarming as it begs the question: “What if his 30 goal breakout season last year was a fluke?” The answer, in case you were wondering, is: “first Poile overpays David Legwand, then Martin Erat and now Hornqvist.”
After career numbers in their contract years, both Legwand and Erat were rewarded with long term, big money deals. The problem is, neither player has lived up to the offensive potential. Legwand, for example, tallied 63 points in his contract year. In the three years since, his highest season total is 44. And, as far as Erat goes, he had back-to-back 57 point seasons, signed the new deal and hasn’t surpassed 50 points since.
It’s safe to say that, if Hornqvist goes the way of Young MC (“a one-hit wonder” for all you kids out there), the Poile-haters will have just one more log to throw on the fire.
A two year deal seemed more advantageous as it would be a nice risk/reward for both the player and the club. Inking Hornqvist for two years would have rewarded him for his great sophomore season yet would’ve protected the team in case he reprised his freshman year where he tallied just nine points in 28 games.
“Horn Dog,” as he’s affectionately known, led the team in shots (275), goals (30), power play goals (10) and game-winning goals (8) in 2009-10. He also led the team in plus/minus with an impressive plus-18 rating. Only Cody Franson (who missed the four game streak in October where Nashville was outscored 16-2) and Marcel Goc (who averaged a full minute less of ice time than Hornqvist did) joined him with a double-digit plus-rating.
According to capgeek.com, the 23-year old Sollentuna, Sweden native made just $620,000 last year and, given the stats listed above, well deserved the hefty raise. Now it’s up to Hornqvist to prove that last year wasn’t a fluke. He was outright handed a top line wing position coming out of training camp two seasons ago yet rarely showed up on the score sheet. He tallied just seven points all season and zero after November 11. While that normally wouldn’t be a disappointment, he was skating on the top line with Jason Arnott and JP Dumont but still wasn’t contributing. As a result, he was sent back to the AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals.
After earning a roster spot last season, however, Hornqvist burst out of the gate with an assist on opening night. Then three points in the next game. Next thing you know, he’d amassed eight points in the month of October, already doubling his career NHL totals. Little did we know that, come April, he’d be challenging Arnott’s club record of 33 goals in a season.
He deserves the raise, absolutely. Nashville fans will just feel a lot better once he proves that he can continue scoring 30-goals a year now that the team has invested that kind of money in him.
One would think his production could improve based solely on the fact that Arnott’s spot on the top line has been replaced with free agent signee Matthew Lombardi. Lombardi is not only a much faster skater than Arnott, he’s younger, a harder worker and a better face-off guy, meaning the Nashville power play should be able to control the puck inside the attacking zone more often. And more puck control on the power play means Hornqvist will be able to do what he does best: stand in front of the net and set screens, deflect pucks and bang home rebounds.
So, once again, he’ll be given the opportunity to play on the top line out of training camp. This time, however, he’s earned it.
UPDATE: Thanks to some diligent work from Dirk Hoag of ontheforecheck.com, the deal has been confirmed by the Predators.
UPDATE (11:58am): The Predators press release states that the deal is, in fact, a three year deal but it’s for a total of $9.25 million, putting the contract a sliver under $3.1 million/year.
SPECIAL THANKS: Mad props to Twitter user @Xion89 for breaking the news in the @PredFans group.
PHOTO CREDIT: Getty Images