Patric Hornqvist was dogged with injury issues this season, as a sprained knee cost him several games early in the season, a shoulder injury which kept him out for a fortnight in March, and another shutdown followed in April once Nashville's playoff hopes were gone, so that he could get a better jump on his recuperation and be ready for next season.
Are such stints out of the lineup part of the cost of doing business for a guy who spends much of his ice time getting worked over by opposing defenseman in front of the enemy net? Hornqvist doesn't believe so, as was discussed in this recent interview with 102.5 The Game:
#27 / Right Wing / Nashville Predators
Jan 01, 1987
1st Quarter Grade: B
1st Half Grade: B+
|2012 - Patric Hornqvist||24||4||10||14||-1||14||4||0||1||87||4.6|
|EV TOI/Gm||OZ %||QoT||QoC|
|5-5 Shots/60||5-5 Pts/60||Corsi On||Corsi Rel|
|Power Play||Penalty Kill|
|PP TOI/Gm||5-4 GF On/60||5-4 Pts/60||PK TOI/Gm||4-5 GA On/60|
|Penalty Plus/Minus||Favor of the Hockey Gods|
|Taken||Drawn||On-Ice Sht%||On-Ice Sv%||PDO|
Explanation of table can be found at the end of Gabby Bourque's review.
Hornqvist is far and away the team leader when it comes to driving shots on goal, an area in which the Predators have had great difficulty the last couple seasons. As I noted in the article announcing his new 5-year contract, Hornqvist has been Nashville's top Corsi player for four consecutive years. While typically characterized as a crease-crashing garbage goal scorer, his ability to battle along the boards and get the Predators from blueline to blueline is highly underrated.
While there is always some risk in any long-term deal (Rob Vollman of Hockey Prospectus was one to raise such concerns), locking Hornqvist in at an average salary of $4.25 million is a win-win for both sides. The player is set for life financially, while the team is protected in the event that he has one of those seasons with a 15-20% shooting percentage and suddenly looks like a $6 million man.
Of added importance is Hornqvist's ability to draw penalties from his opponents. He takes a heap of abuse in front of the net but keeps his cool and doesn't retaliate, which creates power play opportunities for Nashville. The only negative in his performance this year (outside of the injury situation, which is hardly his fault) is the fact that he scored on so few of his shots (4.6%). While likely just a run of poor puck luck, he has yet to top 11.7% in a single season.
My Grade: B
With Martin Erat gone, Hornqvist looks to be the top right wing on the Nashville depth chart these days, and unless the team surprises us with a major acquisition over the summer, he should be the featured offensive weapon up front on the power play. There's probably a bit more upside in terms of both even strength and PP ice time to be had, especially if younger players are brought into the mix and need to have their ice time managed.
As I've said before, if there's anybody in the Predators organization who has 50-goal potential, it's Horn Dog. With 84 career regular season goals, it seems like the 100-mark is well within reach next season, and by the time this 5-year deal is done, he might hit the 200-goal milestone, where David Legwand currently sits as the franchises's career goal-scoring leader.
While lauded for his goal-scoring, Hornqvist's overall competitiveness is a thrill to watch - check out this diving play to prevent an empty net goal against the Blackhawks, which led off that 102.5 interview above: