1:40pm: Friedman tweets that the hold up is related to an insurance issue. It is still not clear what the particulars of the trade would be, if it does go through.
10:50am: The Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers appeared to be close to a deal that would see Patric Hornqvist and Mike Matheson switch teams, but there has been a “glitch” holding it up according to Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet. Pierre LeBrun and Josh Yohe of The Athletic both tweet that the deal is not yet done. Hornqvist does hold a full no-trade clause, though it is not clear if that is the issue here or if the trade will happen at all.
Matheson has become something of a whipping boy for Panthers fans, ever since he signed his eight-year, $39MM extension in 2017. At the time he seemed like an up-and-coming top-four defenseman, but even then the eight-year term and $4.875MM cap hit seemed like a risky proposition. Since then his performance has declined drastically, with the team either benching him or trying him out at forward to attempt to recoup some of the investment. Ridding the books of his contract would be a win for new GM Bill Zito, though the cost of doing so is obviously important to consider.
Hornqvist meanwhile has three years remaining on his own questionable extension, signed in 2018 and carrying a $5.3MM cap hit. That would actually mean the Penguins would gain some cap space in a straight swap, though the veteran forward still does have some effectiveness left in his game. Hornqvist plays one of the most physical, grinding styles in the NHL, constantly battling in front of the net or in the corners. It’s resulted in a lot of offensive success over the seasons including this one in which he scored 17 goals and 32 points in just 52 games. Still, that style of play can often lead to a steep decline as a player enters their mid-thirties, which Hornqvist is firmly in as a 33-year-old that could very well turn 34 before the next season gets underway (his birthday is January 1).
If the trade does go through without any additions, it would seem a curious decision for a Pittsburgh team that already has plenty of money tied up on the back end. That said, their recent acquisition of Kasperi Kapanen has likely pushed Hornqvist out of a top-six role, making him quite the expensive option in his own right. Perhaps they believe that returning assistant coach Todd Reirden can help Matheson regain his form, or were just looking for a way to get out of Hornqvist’s last few years.
Stay tuned for more information.