James Guillory-US PRESSWIRE
The Nashville Predators have had to battle an impression that they lack goal-scoring talent, but Patric Hornqvist's production over the last three seasons ranks him alongside names like Marian Hossa, Scott Hartnell, and Patrick Kane. What will it take for Smashville's sniper to get the credit he deserves?
Horn Dog enjoyed another productive season, leading the team in shots and goals, but once again his production dried up in the playoffs. In the regular season, Hornqvist scores about 0.3 goals per game, but in 24 playoff contests, that rate has dwindled to 0.125. There's hope to be found in the realization that he's getting his shots (3.3 per game in the playoffs vs. 3.1 per game in the regular season), but if doesn't break through with a standout playoff performance soon, he could get a reputation for coming up short at crunch time.
Hornqvist still enjoys a unique role within the Preds' attack, being the front-of-the-net specialist in tips & rebounds. My hope is that he doesn't limit himself to that kind of game, because he does have a decent set of hands, as shown in this goal from last March against Anaheim:
Patric isn't just a crease crasher, he also boasts some of the best possession metrics on the team, even after you take into account the fact that he gets extra faceoffs in the offensive zone. He spent the lockout ping-ponging back and forth between Swiss and Swedish professional leagues, so he should be ready to hit the ground running when the regular season opens.
This will be an important season for Hornqvist, as he'll be eligible for Restricted Free Agency this summer.
While he has led the team in goal scoring in two of the last three seasons, there are young players rising up through the ranks like Craig Smith and Colin Wilson. Will Hornqvist lead the Preds in goals once again?