Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist spent half of last season out of the lineup due to various injuries. In 24 games he scored just four goals and didn’t look like the same player that scored a combined 78 goals in his first three full NHL season.
Going into the 2013-14 season, Hornqvist has something to prove and wants to make up for the disappointment of last season.
“My last year was not very good. I was hurt almost half of the season. I’m just glad I’m healthy and ready for the season,” he said last week.
Hornqvist initially missed 10 games early in the season due to a sprained knee. In March he sustained a shoulder injury, which forced him to miss seven games. He ended the season missing the final seven contests once the team was out of the playoff mix.
Unfortunately for the Predators, during Wednesday night’s game against Washington, Hornqvist suffered a lower-body injury. The Predators’ power forward took a shot off the leg in the second period and was held out of action in the final frame of a 4-1 loss in the nation’s capital.
The 26-year old is listed as day-to-day, but the news that Hornqvist could potentially miss time is an early blow to a team that was riddled with injuries a season ago, and lost free agent pickup Viktor Stalberg to a sprained AC joint in his right shoulder. The former Chicago Blackhawk is expected to miss 3-4 weeks.
Once Hornqvist returns to the ice, he’ll be on a mission to return to his previous form. In the offseason he signed a five-year contract worth $21.25 million. The new deal puts Hornqvist at ease, but he wants to earn his pay.
“It takes a little bit of the pressure off me. If you sign a one-year deal, there is a lot of pressure. I really think there is something good going here. That’s why I signed [longer term],” he said.
Drafted last overall in 2005, Hornqvist has proven to be a top-six forward with a knack for scoring goals around the crease. He scored 30 goals in the 2009-10 campaign, his first full season in the NHL. He followed that up with seasons of 21 and 27 goals, and remains a valuable piece of the puzzle offensively for the Predators
Before last season’s injury-riddled campaign, the 26-year-old Swede was rarely injured. From 2009-10 through 2011-12 he only missed a total of 11 games, although he did break his hand just prior to the 2010 playoffs.
Whether Hornqvist will be able to play opening night against St. Louis on Oct. 3 is unknown. But one thing is for certain: Predators fans will see a lot of Hornqvist in the coming years. He likes the security that comes with a longer-term deal and mentioned the choice to sign for five years in Nashville wasn’t a difficult one to make.
“I could’ve signed for one or two years if I wanted. But I like Nashville. It is a good organization and I think we can win here,” said Hornqvist. “That’s why I signed for five years.”