In the weeks leading up to the upcoming season, we'll preview the Nashville Predators on a player-by-player basis, examining their role on the squad and expectations relative to capabilities. So come along for the ride as we look ahead to 2010-11, from Andersson to Wilson. Next up: Patric Hornqvist.
While we've already looked at pleasant surprises such as Francis Bouillon, Cody Franson, and Marcel Goc, the greatest surprise of all was arguably a player who at one time carried high hopes, but had fallen out of favor after a disappointing 2008-09. That changed, though, with a revelatory performance which saw him not only lead the team in goals, but out-work and out-hustle everyone on the roster on his way to being voted team MVP.
After scoring 30 goals and signing a new contract, expectations for Patric Hornqvist are higher than for anyone else on the roster. Indeed, he scored the most goals in a season by a home-grown Predator, and did it all with the lowest average ice time among 30-goal scorers.
With the departure of Jason Arnott, more of the goal scoring burden falls to the Swedish winger in 2010-11. After the jump, we'll take a look at where he might fit and how he'll adapt to a more significant role.
First line winger. He was restricted to more of a secondary role last year, but his ascendancy means that Barry Trotz will increase his ice time and responsibilities. Additionally, he'll be the first choice right wing for the Predators' power play. Hornqvist and Shea Weber were just about the only things that went right on the man advantage, so expect more of the same.
In short - to prove that last year was not an aberration, but the beginning of the norm. If he does not score at least 25 or 30 goals again, then the coaching staff (and fans) will have reason to be disappointed. By giving him a 3 year deal, David Poile took a leap of faith. Its up to Patric to reward him.
Three years, $9.25 million. Is it overpayment? Not so fast, my friends.
In 80 games (sufferingin Game 81), he scored 30 goals to go with 21 assists, and led the team in +/-(+18) and shots on goal (275). A broken hand suffered on April 7 kept him mostly out of the playoffs.
I'm not so optimistic as to say that he could score fifty; but with better linemates, an improved season is not out of the question. If he manages to avoid Shea Weber's slap shot (a tall order), I see Hornqvist scoring 38 goals to go along with 26 assists.