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The Florida Panthers have acquired F Patric Hornqvist from the Pittsburgh Penguins in exchange for D Mike Matheson and F Colton Sceviour.
Right when this trade was originally announced as a possibility yesterday, before Sceviour was reported to be a part of it, the hockey world collectively felt confusion. Hornqvist might not be the player he once was, and his contract situation may not be ideal for the cap-strapped Penguins, but Matheson is on a worse deal, and even at his age, he is not a good player. In the second year of an eight year deal with an AAV of $4.875 million, Matheson played poorly in the return to play, and that is an understatement. In one exhibition game in late July against Tampa Bay, Matheson was on the ice for all five goals against in a 5-0 loss. And in the play-in round vs the Islanders, Matheson had eight penalty minutes in the first two games, before coach Joel Quenneville had enough, benching Matheson for Florida's last two games of the season. Not being able to play for a borderline playoff team and the six years remaining on his contract are both major red flags for the Penguins, but they are blowing right past them. While the plus/minus stat is flawed, Matheson is a -30 in his career, and in 2018-19, was a -24. While he is a good skater and scored 10 goals in 2017-18, Matheson just is not a valuable player to acquire in a trade, especially when the Penguins give up a quality player in Hornqvist. Sceviour isn't much an addition to this deal, either. With one more year left on his contract and a $1.2 million cap hit, Sceviour profiles as a right handed shot, bottom-six winger. Scoring double-digit goals just twice in his career, Sceviour will take Hornqvist's right wing spot, but move down a few lines. New addition Kasperi Kapanen will be asked to step up after this trade.
Matheson, 26, scored eight goals with 12 assists for 20 points in 59 games for the Panthers this past season. In his NHL career, all in Florida, Matheson has 33 goals with 58 assists for 91 points in 299 games.
Sceviour, 31, scored six goals with 10 assists for 16 points in 69 games for the Panthers in 2019-20. In his NHL career for the Panthers and Dallas Stars, Sceviour has 59 goals with 82 assists for 141 points in 454 games.
This is a great trade for the Panthers. Not only do they unload Matheson's contract, they did it by not retaining any money, not giving away a "sweetener", and getting a quality player back in return. Plus, by adding in Sceviour, they actually saved over $700k in cap space. Hornqvist isn't on the best deal right now; he has three years left with an AAV of $5.3 million. But, he is still a great net-front presence who has won two Stanley Cups and scored at least 20 goals in eight different seasons. While he hasn't accomplished that feat since 2017-18, and is frequently injured, Hornqvist is a good addition to the team. After six seasons in Pittsburgh, this is a disappointing end to the era.
Hornqvist, 33, scored 17 goals with 15 assists for 32 points in 59 games for the Penguins this past season. In his NHL career for the Penguins and Nashville Predators, Hornqvist has 238 goals with 242 assists for 480 points in 770 games.