Patric Hornqvist is in the midst of his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and he will be an unrestricted free agent after the season. He’s been as consistent as a forward can be, as one of 13 players since the 2009-10 season to have 20+ goals in at least seven seasons. He’s a very valuable player for the Penguins but they must tread carefully as the Swede enters his 30’s. Let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons of a Patric Hornqvist extension.
The Pros and Cons of a Patric Hornqvist Extension
As previously mentioned, Patric Hornqvist has scored 20 goals or more in seven seasons and it’s not likely his offensive prowess is going to end soon. He’s been a top-six player each season he’s been in Pittsburgh, though it has changed a bit this season. Hornqvist is playing on the third line with Carl Hagelin and Greg McKegg, though it’s unknown how long McKegg will continue to centre the third line. It is likely a trade will be completed at some point to upgrade the position at some point during the season.
Hornqvist had 1.93 5v5 points per 60 last year, as well as 1.13 goals per 60 last season. He also played on the top power-play unit last year and could be back there once he plays some more games after coming off his hand injury. 10 of his 21 goals came off of the power play, while he also had seven assists with the man advantage. That’s exactly what the Penguins expect out of him each season and can expect for at least the next few seasons if he were to be re-signed.
Patric Hornqvist is already in his thirties and as he continues to age, his production will decline. It’s important that if the Penguins do bring Hornqvist back that it’s short-term, not long-term. Pittsburgh can’t afford to sign a player such as Hornqvist until he’s 36 or 37 as his production will have fallen off significantly by then.
The Penguins have experience with this. Pittsburgh signed Chris Kunitz to a deal when he was in his mid-thirties. By the time he was at the end of the contract, his production had declined by well over 20 points after he hit 68 during the 2013-2014 season.
If Hornqvist was in his prime years, the team would definitely look to sign him to a long-term deal. As he isn’t, the Penguins will have to think twice about extending him over multiple years due to the concern with his age.
Pro: Playoff Performance
In each of the last two seasons for the Penguins, Patric Hornqvist has been one of their best players in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. He, of course, scored the Stanley Cup-clinching goal against the Nashville Predators from his office right in front of the net, even with a broken hand:
Hornqvist had five goals and nine points during their run last season. The season before he had nine goals and 13 points in the postseason. In the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs, he scored in overtime against the Washington Capitals to give Pittsburgh the series lead:
The two examples are just two of the 14 playoff goals Hornqvist has scored for the Penguins, both incredibly clutch. Outside of the star players, teams need to have depth players produce in order to win championships. This is that’s exactly what Hornqvist has done while in Pittsburgh.
Con: Prospects Are on the Way
The Penguins are loaded on the right wing. Conor Sheary is on the top line with Sidney Crosby. Phil Kessel is on the second line with Evgeni Malkin. Pittsburgh also has Daniel Sprong, a top prospect down with the Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins who’s could be up with the team soon. There’s lots of hype surrounding him with his wicked shot. Sprong can make an impact in the National Hockey League as soon as he is called up.
When Sprong arrives in the NHL full-time, the only room for Hornqvist would be as the fourth line right winger. Hornqvist never plays on the left wing, so that wouldn’t be an option for him. The Penguins also have Zach Aston-Reese potentially up next season, though he’s a left winger right now for Wilkes-Barre.
It’s going to be interesting to see what happens with the Hornqvist extension as the season goes along. Pittsburgh is going to need to get this decision right or face a cap crunch in the coming years.
Main Photo: Embed from Getty Images