Photo via: CBS Pittsburgh
Point: I am not a Pittsburgh Penguins fan.
Counter-point: Patrick Hornqvist is awesome.
Hornqvist is 663 games into a stellar NHL career. He was drafted in 2005 in the seventh round, and played three more years in Sweden before coming stateside to the Nashville Predators. Following six strong seasons in Nashville he was traded to the Pittsburgh Penguins, where he is in his fifth season now.
Hornqvist has …well… a distinctive shot pattern.
In short, the man enjoys playing in front of the net. Hornqvist screens and tips his way to success. As a part of Pittsburgh’s top power play, he is teamed with super-elite linemates. Last year, Hornqvist’s 15 PPGs tied for 3rd in the NHL. Hornqvist is smaller than many other net-front stars. His 5’11” 189 lb frame is less than Wayne Simmonds (6’2″, 185 lbs) or James van Riemsdyk (6’3″, 217 lbs), two players who hockey-reference.com‘s player career comparison finder shows as having very similar career trajectories to Hornqvist.
While Hornqvist virtually always plays with Crosby and Malkin on the power play, he has not been as lucky at even strength this year. In 2018-19, Hornqvist is only getting a quarter of his 5 on 5 minutes with Sidney Crosby and one sixth with Evgeni Malkin. In the prior three years, Hornqvist was paired with at least one of the two 75% of the time on the ice. His normal low-50s point pace has suffered accordingly, with less than a half point per game over the Pens’ first 14 this season. He has points in only 3 of those 14 games. Hornqvist has scored about a third of his career points on the power play, but only has one power play point this year as of the date of this article.
Hornqvist’s physical style and tendency to battle close to the goal provides dividends to dynasty players in leagues counting shots, hits and blocks. This is Hornqvist’s biggest value to the fantasy player, and can easily be missed. The patterns, however, have been odd.
Hornqvist is consistently an excellent source of shots — no doubt from rebounds and tips near the net unlikely to be blocked and likely to make it to the goalie It’s unclear why Hornqvist’s hits have jumped in the last few years. I know the massive spike in 2016-17 helped me win one league, and the four straight years of two or more per game is an tremendous boon to the fantasy player. While his blocks are not to the level of a top defenseman’s, nearly one per game is also very strong for a forward.
One caveat before rostering Hornqvist is to brace yourself for the potential of missing games due to injury. Playing a physical game at a smaller stature, injury may be inevitable. In four years in Pittsburgh he’s missed 42 games, plus more in the playoffs. Certainly recurring injuries raise questions about his further longevity.
In dynasty, Hornqvist is an established commodity but perhaps undervalued. He fits well on a win-now team. If an upgrade in RW is needed and/or your team needs to pad peripheral stats like shots, hits, blocks, and power play points, he may be just the guy to make the difference.