The Nashville Predators signed restricted free agent Patric Hornqvist to a three year, $9.25 million contract, the club announced today.
Hornqvist led the Predators this past season with 30 goals, most scored in the dirty area in front of the net. His physical presence rattled opposing goalies and opened space for other forwards in the offensive zone. His signing was considered a must for the Predators in the off season, and this announcement was eagerly anticipated by Predator fans.
The deal will pay Hornqvist $3 million in each of the next two seasons and $3.25 million in the third year.
There are two significant aspects of this signing for the Predators.
Hornqvist WANTED to be in Nashville. This was stated by Hornqvist and reiterated by his agent. After his breakout season, it was assumed that Hornqvist could test the market, and a player that plays his type of game would certainly be coveted by any number of teams that needed a player that could establish a physical presence in front of the net.
Hornqvist desired to remain with the Predators. It is not believed that he seriously tested the market, but instead focused his efforts on working out an acceptable contract with the Predators.
This speaks well of what is happening with the Predators, both on the ice and in the locker room. Hornqvist is comfortable with the coaches and the system in Nashville and that weighed heavily in his decision to try to work a deal to remain with the team.
The other aspect that is significant is that the Predators stepped up to sign a key component of the team. Predator fans had worried that Hornqvist would receive an offer that the team could not, or would not match. The Predators allowed some signings to occur that set the market and then stepped up to sign an important cog in the offense.
The Predators have been referred to as a team that attempts to build a winner "on the cheap" and would not pay to keep talent. The Hornqvist signing goes a long way toward dispelling that myth. This was a good contract for a player that had the potential to try the market waters.
This signing was the Predators showing that they will commit the resources to a player that is integral to the success of the team.
This was the Predators showing that the "Predator Way" is one that will keep the players that are essential to the continued on ice success of the franchise.
The onus of this contract is now on Hornqvist to prove that he is not a one hit wonder. Fans and management will be watching to see his improvement on last season's performance.
I think they will be pleasantly surprised.
The commitment of management- and the owners- to step up and sign a key player like Hornqvist should be viewed as nothing but positive. This commitment to a key player is a statement to Predator fans and to the hockey world that this team will continue to reward those players that contribute to the success of the team.
Take that statement as a sign of the stability and health of this franchise.