By Amanda DiPaolo
In the September 27th edition of The Hockey News, the magazine ranked the top 20 players in each position. With the strength of the Predators back end, it is no surprise that Pekka Rinne comes in at number 12 on the top goalies list. Tomas Vokoun is listed at no. 9. It is also no surprise that defensive partners Shea Weber and Ryan Suter are ranked 7th and 12th respectively. Only Detroit, Chicago and Philadelphia also had more than one defensemen to make the top 20 list. Former Predator Kimmo Timonen ranks in just behind Suter at no. 13. To date, Nashville hasn’t been known for producing top scoring threats, but Patric Hornqvist landed in at number 15 on the top 20 players at the position of right wing.
Being listed in the company of the likes of Chicago’s Patrick Kane and Marian Hossa, the Capitals Alexander Semin, as well as San Jose’s Dany Heatley, Hornqvist finds himself in with some pretty elite company. When asked about the rankings, Hornqvist was surprised to be included but determined to prove he belongs on the list. “Of course that surprises me” Hornqvist said, adding “I’m happy for that. It gets some more pressure on my shoulders.”
Hornqvist tied with Steve Sullivan last year for the team’s lead in points with 51 each. The native of Sollentuna, Sweden was also Nashville’s leading scorer, with 30 goals. It is no surprise, The Hockey News also predicts Hornqvist will be Nashville’s most offensive threat on the ice, and predicts he will notch 59 points this season. But Hornqvist says specific point predictions do not add to the pressures that he already carries going into the 2010-2011 season. “Everybody has to step up a little bit. If we do that, we know it will be hard to beat us this year. Last year we didn’t do that so if everybody chips in this year we know we will be a good team,” he said.
Not only does The Hockey News see Hornqvist as one of the premiere players in the game today, last December, they determined he would be drafted in the first round of the entry draft if the 2005 draft would be done over again today.
Hornqvist was rewarded handsomely for last year’s efforts with a three-year deal worth $9.25 million. When the deal is up, Hornqvist will 26 years old, and still a restricted free agent. That means that the 15th best right winger in the game today is likely to be a Predator for years to come.
Not bad for a player picked last in the draft, 230th overall.