After coming close to a trade yesterday, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Florida Panthers have worked through their “glitch.” That deal has now been completed, with Patric Hornqvist heading to Florida in exchange for Mike Matheson and Colton Sceviour. No salary has been retained by either team.
A proven winner and champion, Patric brings a level of competition to our club. He is a talented veteran presence who plays with an edge and we look forward to what he can add to our group.
That championship resume is not something that many other players on the Panthers have and something that Zito will obviously value as he looks to turn around Florida in his first time as a GM. Hornqvist is also arguably the best player involved in the trade, even at his age.
Likely turning 34 just as the next NHL season gets underway (his birthday is January 1), Hornqvist has plenty of miles on a body that is routinely used to battle in front of the net and in the corners. The physical forward has scored 238 times in his career, including 84 goals from his net-front spot on the powerplay. It’s not like things have gone downhill of late either, as Hornqvist recorded 17 goals and 32 points in just 52 games this season.
Of course, for the Panthers this deal is about a lot more than just adding pedigree and leadership. Getting out from under Matheson’s contract will be seen as a big win, even if he’s able to turn around his career in Pittsburgh.
The 25-year-old defenseman had fallen completely out of favor in Florida since signing an eight-year contract in 2017. That deal carries a cap hit of $4.875MM through the 2025-26 season, and actually has a partial no-trade clause that will kick in next year. The Panthers had scratched Matheson several times and even tried him at forward as they attempted to squeeze some value out of the deal, but it just wasn’t working. In 299 games with the team he had registered 91 points, but routinely posted underwhelming defensive and possessions statistics.
A part of the deal that wasn’t reported yesterday is Sceviour, who shouldn’t be entirely overlooked. Even if he isn’t a household name, there’s no doubting Sceviour’s ability to serve a depth role in the bottom-six and help a penalty kill. He’s been a regular NHL player for the last six seasons, good for about ten goals and 25 points a year.
It is notable though that with Sceviour’s addition, the Penguins aren’t even actually opening any cap space in this deal. Hornqvist’s $5.3MM cap hit is actually surpassed by the combined totals of Matheson ($4.875MM) and Sceviour ($1.2MM) next season, though obviously, they take up two roster spots now.
More likely, Penguins GM Jim Rutherford saw this as an opportunity to reshape his group and considered Hornqvist too expensive to serve the third-line role he was likely penciled moving forward. The acquisition of Kasperi Kapanen pushed him down the lineup, plus Rutherford has been clear that he felt this group needed a drastic change if they wanted to compete for another Stanley Cup.
The question now becomes how exactly Matheson fits in. The Penguins already had four defensemen making at least $3.25MM, plus youngster John Marino who has taken hold of a top-four role. There very well could be another move coming, but for now, it is a crowded (and expensive) blueline.
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