Pittsburgh Penguins Offseason Grades: Patric Hornqvist’s Much Needed Tenacity


When the 2013-14 season concluded it was very clear that the Pittsburgh Penguins were in need of change. A lot of change.

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While it was expected that all rostered players outside of Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Kris Letang, and Marc-Andre Fleury were fair game, few expected the Pens to move James Neal. But, that’s exactly what Jim Rutherford and the Pittsburgh Penguins did when he shipped Neal to the Nashville Predators for Patric Hornqvist and Nick Spaling.

I don’t want to get caught up in discussing the trade too much, as this piece is more focused on Patric Hornqvist’s performance with the Pens, but the only thing I’d change is the addition of Nick Spaling to the deal. It was considered a move for depth with little cap increase, but his $2.2 million salary proved to be more than what he was worth.

Despite Hornqvist’s battle through injuries, he managed to accumulate 51 points (25g, 26a) in 64 games played. He also boasted a 5v5 corsi-for of 54.6, which was sixth on the team. There was fear of losing offensive production when Neal was sent to Nashville, which may be true considering he was a former 40-goal scorer for the Pittsburgh Penguins. But, there’s no denying that Hornqvist was the perfect acquisition if the Pens were parting ways with a pure sniper and looking for character plus skill.

If you follow me on Twitter at @Michael29Angelo, or read my work, you’ll know that I prefer subjective stats over objective opinions. I’m no analytics pro or mathematician, but a player’s overall numbers will normally provide you with a much more accurate idea of their performance over objective opinions. Patric Hornqvist is a perfect example of how it all comes together.

When you talk about intangibles in the NHL, you normally mention a player’s grit, character, and ability to lead. You’ll hear things like “compete level”, which is an absurd observation, but quite common none-the-less. Hornqvist gives you all of that, plus skill.

He’s a frequent fixture in the opponents goal crease, and teeters the line of aggressive net-front play and goalie interference like very few can. The recent playoff series against the New York Rangers was a great example of that ability. The guy was extremely fun to watch for Pens fans, and played harder down the stretch than anyone not wearing number 87 on their back.

Our own Nicholas Treu visited the fact that the Pens need more Hornqvists in the lineup, and he hit the nail on the head. When you can add physical, skilled players to an already talented core you’ll see success.

My grade for Patric Hornqvist is an A. He was one of the most noticeable Pittsburgh Penguins game-in and game-out, and never seemed to slow down despite his reckless style of play. If the Pens are able to add a skilled winger to flank Crosby opposite of Hornqvist we could see one of the most dangerous lines in the league next season.

Next: Pens Offseason Grades: Blake Comeau's Redemption Tour

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