Penguins Trade Hornqvist to Panthers for Matheson

The Pittsburgh Penguins have traded forward Patric Hornqvist to the Florida Panthers in exchange for defender Mike Matheson and forward Colton Sceviour. This deal was originally reported by Kevin Weekes before Elliotte Friedman mentioned there was a “glitch” in the trade. Sceviour wasn’t originally reported to be part of the deal, but the official deal saw him added with things finally sorted out.

Hornqvist has spent the past six seasons with the Penguins which actually represents more games-played as a member of the Penguins than when he was with the Nashville Predators. He’d score 132 goals and 264 points in 407 games in Pittsburgh and would win two Stanley Cups with the team in 2016 and 2017.

The 33-year-old has three years remaining on his contract, originally signed in 2018, that carries a $5.3 million annual cap hit. He’ll slot in behind Jonathan Huberdeau and Aleksander Barkov on the Panthers as their third-highest cap hit among forwards with the team having a plethora of forwards looking for new deals this offseason.

Patric Hornqvist Pittsburgh Penguins
Patric Hornqvist, Pittsburgh Penguins (Amy Irvin / The Hockey Writers)

Included in that list of players are Evgeni Dadonov, Mike Hoffman, Erik Haula, Lucas Wallmark and Brian Boyle, among others. Getting Hornqvist under contract gives the Panthers some more certainty in their forward group. It also brings in a veteran who has proven he can not only win in the playoffs, but contribute as well.

Penguins Shaking Up Lineup Again

For the Penguins, this deal is a little more difficult to figure out. The Penguins already have one of the more interesting bluelines in the entire NHL both from a talent standpoint and a salary standpoint. Their blue-line could already use help and bringing in Matheson seems like a strange decision to address this issue.

Though the 26-year-old would show flashes of being a top-four defender in the past, he’s settled more into a bottom-pairing-type player over the course of his career. There’s also the fact that he joins a Penguins team that already has Brian Dumoulin, Marcus Pettersson, Jack Johnson and Juuso Riikola who all play left-shot defense on the Penguins.

Mike Matheson Florida Panthers
Mike Matheson, Florida Panthers (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

Something has to give because the Penguins certainly didn’t move a player like Hornqvist in a deal to acquire a defender making $4.875 million in each of the next six seasons simply to have that defender play in a seventh-defender role.

It wasn’t that long ago that the Penguins moved both Conor Sheary and Matt Hunwick to the Buffalo Sabres in exchange for a conditional fourth-round pick to clear up cap space to sign Johnson to a five-year, $16.25 million contract in 2018. In a normal setting, it would seem weird to have him come out of the lineup so soon after making a commitment like this, but general manager Jim Rutherford also hasn’t ever seemed to be wary of changing his plans on the fly.

This can be evidenced by the fact that Sheary is already back on the Penguins as a part of the Dominik Kahun trade, as well as the fact that the Penguins signed Hornqvist to his extension in 2018 before moving him as a part of this Matheson deal.

There are many examples in recent years of Rutherford making trades that he’s deemed beneficial for his club in one way or another and this is just another chapter in that book.

The Penguins would also acquire Sceviour in this deal which gives them another veteran presence in their locker room. The 31-year-old forward scored six goals and 16 point in 69 games this past season and should fill a bottom-six role in Pittsburgh.

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