The Florida Panthers were going to face a cap crunch when Anthony Duclair was eventually cleared to return from his Achilles recovery, but it seems the injury bug might have done the work for them. Patric Hornqvist is expected to be moved to long-term injured reserve, according to Frank Seravalli of Daily Faceoff.
Hornqvist suffered what is believed to be a concussion during Saturday’s game against the Seattle Kraken, and will now miss at least ten games and 24 days due to the LTIR placement. As George Richards of Florida Hockey Now points out, this is not because of Duclair, who is still not close to returning.
Still, given the low usage that Hornqvist was getting this season, moving his $5.3MM cap hit to LTIR does give the team a good bit of extra flexibility. The 35-year-old is averaging just over nine minutes a night this year, playing as a fourth-liner and barely contributing. In the final year of his deal, reports emerged earlier this year that there is a handshake deal in place with the veteran forward that will keep him in Florida through the end of the season.
The Panthers had been operating with a roster under the allowed 23 players – even dressing fewer than 20 in recent games – something that will be able to change with Hornqvist out. The team will now have the flexibility to recall an extra defenseman, and keep players like Aleksi Heponiemi and Chris Tierney up on regular recall.
For Hornqvist, it appears as though the end of his NHL career might be fast approaching. His production has been on a steady decline in recent years and this season he has just three points in 22 games. About to turn 36, he has over 900 regular season games under his belt.