Patric Hornqvist could have taken what’s likely to be a fifth-straight 20-goal season to the open market this season and cashed in as an unrestricted free agent. Instead, the Pittsburgh Penguins forward has signed a five-year, $26.5 million extension to stay with the back-to-back Stanley Cup champions.
Since coming over from the Nashville Predators in a trade during the 2014 NHL draft, Hornqvist has scored 85 goals and recorded 178 points in 267 games. He’s saved some of his biggest moments for the postseason where he’s potted 14 goals during the Penguins’ last two Cup runs, including the empty-netter that sealed things in 2016 versus the San Jose Sharks and the game-winning goal late in the clincher against his old Predators teammates last June.
“We are thrilled for Patric. He has been such a big part of this team and what they’ve been able to accomplish,” said Penguins head coach Mike Sullivan. “He’s a positive guy. He brings a dimension to our dressing room that’s unique. There’s no one more deserving.”
The extension means, as Cap Friendly shows us, that the Penguins now have Hornqvist, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Phil Kessel, Kris Letang, Brian Dumoulin and Olli Maatta signed through at least the 2021-22 season. That’s your core for this current Cup window.
Here’s the big question, though: Is this extension too long for your liking? Hornqvist turned 31 on New Year’s Day and will be 36 when his contract expires in 2023. He plays a physical game and has missed 24 games over the last two seasons and 42 in his four years in Pittsburgh. Bodies break down as they age, and considering how the Swede likes to engage opponents, how will this contract look in two or three years, and who might be negatively affected by it cap-wise? (Of course, another championship or two over these five years and that becomes of little concern.)
The Penguins have a little under $5 million in cap space this summer, per Cap Friendly. If the ceiling goes up around $3 million as expected, that will help, especially since general manager Jim Rutherford has decisions to make on restricted free agents Riley Sheahan, Bryan Rust, Tom Kuhnhackl and Jamie Oleskiak.
We’ve seen the magic Rutherford has worked in the past keeping the Penguins under the ceiling and continually icing a roster that can contend. Pittsburgh can keep the faith knowing that nothing should change now.