Preds sign leading scorer to 3 year, $9.25m deal

The Nashville Predators announced today that Patric Hornqvist has signed a three-year deal worth $9.25 million. Woot! Woot!

GLENDALE, AZ - JANUARY 21: Patric Hornqvist #27 of the Nashville Predators celebrates with teammates after scoring a second period goal against the Phoenix Coyotes during the NHL game at Jobing.com Arena on January 21, 2010 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo: Yardbarker.com)

A three-year deal is a bit of a surprise considering the dollar amount, but the important thing to note is that at the end of his contract, Hornqvist will only be 26 years old so he will still be a restricted free agent, with arbitration rights, but an RFA nonetheless. This means that if the Predators want to keep him, the team will have first dibs.

On the one hand, Predators faithful sighed a collective sigh of relief after waiting almost 2 full months since Hornqvist was extended a qualifying offer before he actually signed a deal. But on the other hand, last year’s leading scorer hasn’t consistently produced 30-goal seasons. A multi-year deal worth $3 million a season is quite the leap of faith.

Last year, Hornqvist got paid $650 000. The deal is one heck of a pay raise. But whether or not the $2.5 million raise is worth is up for debate. Don’t get me wrong, no Preds fan is disappointed that the Hornqvist deal got done. But what if he under performs next year? What if the pressure gets to him the following season and his productivity continues to decrease even further during the 2011-2012 hockey season? In other words, is there any chance of Hornqvist becoming the next David Legwand?

No one knows. Having gone from 2 to 30 goals from one season to the next is certainly promising for a Predators team that has traditionally lacked on offensive punch. In the 2008-2009 season, the Swedish native played 28 games for the Predators, scored 2 goals, added 5 assists, and had a minus 3 rating on 11:24 average ice time per game. This season, Hornqvist played an average 15:41 per game and led the Predators in some very important categories with just 4 minutes more of ice time per game. In fact, according to the Predators press release, Hornqvist’s average ice time was the lowest among the NHL’s Top-20 goal scorers last season.

In 80 games, Hornqvist led the team in goals with 30, power play goals with 10, he had a plus 18 rating and even led the team in shots with 275. These are fantastic numbers for a Predator who was 6th in ice time for forwards, with Colin Wilson only a handful of seconds behind Hornqvist.

Right now, Predators fans are excited about the signing and can’t wait for the season to start, with the hopes and yes the expectations that Hornqvist will at least equal his production from last season. If he fails to be the offensive powerhouse that is now expected of him, Preds fans may lose faith in the only GM the team has ever known. A man who always gets draft picks out of nothing. And a man who was able to sign one of the most coveted forwards in this year’s free agency frenzy. But yes the same GM that signed Legwand and Martin Erat to life-long contracts only to see their respective offensive abilities steadily decrease.

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