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The Hornqvist signing: Have the first dominos fallen?

At the Skate of the Union on July 8, Nashville Predators General Manager David Poile explained that the only reason Patric Hornqvist wasn’t signed was because there hadn’t been any comparable players signed by other teams yet. Basically suggesting that a domino effect would need to take place before the Preds could offer their leading goal scorer a fair contract.

Have the first dominos finally fallen?

Yesterday, the Vancouver Canucks re-signed left winger Mason Raymond to a two-year deal worth $5.1 million and, just this morning, the New York Islanders re-signed 26-year old left winger Matt Moulson to a one year contract worth $2.4 million. Both guys are consensus comparables to Hornqvist.

Raymond is 24 years old and scored 25 goals last year while tallying 58 points in his third NHL season. Hornqvist, by comparison, is 23 years old and scored 30 goals last season while amassing 51 points in his second NHL campaign.

Moulson played in all 82 games for the Islanders and, like Hornqvist, bagged 30 goals. Before this season, he played in 29 games over the past two years with the Los Angeles Kings, tallying a total of 10 points. Hornqvist, if you recall, played in 28 games during his first season with the Preds and amassed nine points.

Not too far off, eh?

Many Predators fans just want “Horn Dog” signed but let’s be honest, Poile can’t just throw money at him. He needs to budget the re-signing Shea Weber and Ryan Suter before the summers of 2011 and 2012, respectively. If they were to offer Hornqvist $3.5 million per season in a long term deal, they could probably kiss Weber or Suter goodbye. Or maybe both.

“There’s a lot of comparables out there,” Poile told the Skate of the Union crowd. “Every signing effects the next signing. So, right now, it’s a little bit of a comparable situation between myself and the agents in possibly waiting for some other players to sign. The bottom line is they want to be here and we want to get them signed.”

Well, given the last 24 hours, it looks like that could be just around the corner.

If Raymond is slated to make $2.5 million and Moulson is slated to make $2.4 million, one would have to assume that the Predators will offer the Sollentuna, Sweden native a two or three year deal between $2.5 and $2.75 million a year. After all, Hornqvist is younger than both Raymond (24) and Moulson (26) and neither of those guys led their team in points. Hornqvist did.

Additionally, even though a case could be made (especially with Moulson) that all three guys are in the same stage of their careers, the fact is that Hornqvist put up the numbers in his second NHL season. Both Raymond and Moulson did it in their third as their rookie years were in 2007-08, a full season before Hornqvist was even playing hockey in North America.

The question Poile and the Preds have to struggle with is whether they want to go long-term or not. Sure, they could probably offer Hornqvist $3 million a year for five years but what if his one dynamic season turns out to be a fluke? Then, once again, Nashville is stuck over-paying a guy who doesn’t deserve what he’s getting. But, on the other hand, if they only give him a one-year deal, they’re risking him having another 30-goal campaign and signing with a big market team who’s in desperate need of a goal scorer and who can afford to throw $5 or $6 million at him. Obviously, the Preds couldn’t match that so he’d be free to walk.

For the best interest of everyone involved, a two year deal seems best. It would give the player a substaintial raise, it would give the team some insurance in case last year was/wasn’t a fluke, and it would give the fans what they’ve been asking for for a while now: a scoring threat who’s willing to do whatever it takes to put the puck in the net.

We predict the deal will get done by Wednesday of next week and it’ll be a two-year deal worth $5.3 million.

(But honestly? We don’t care if we’re wrong, we just want him signed.)

SPECIAL THANKS: Without Buddy Oakes of Preds on the Glass taking and then posting the video of the Skate of the Union on YouTube, I wouldn’t have been able to research this “comparable” angle. So a special thanks to Buddy for posting that series of videos.

PROPS MUST BE GIVEN: While writing this blog over the past two days, Chris Burton over at On The Forecheck put up some analysis of his own. I encourage you to head over there and read his take as well.

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