After news broke and then stalled on Wednesday, the Penguins were able to complete a rumored deal on Thursday afternoon. They sent away two-time Stanley Cup champion Patric Hornqvist, a hard-working forward whose intensity and style helped revamp and inject energy into the team for the last six years to the Florida Panthers.
In return, Pittsburgh receives defenseman Mike Matheson and forward Colton Sceviour.
As always, there were instant reactions to the finalization of news that had been simmering for over 24 hours.
We literally could not have done it without you.— Pittsburgh Penguins (@penguins) September 24, 2020
Thanks for everything, Patric Hornqvist! pic.twitter.com/KNazEwH9Iu
Mike Matheson's eight goals last season were the most among all Panthers defensemen, while seven of them came at even strength.— Penguins PR (@PenguinsPR) September 24, 2020
Only 17 defensemen in the NHL had more even-strength goals than Matheson in 2019-20. https://t.co/YZtidWQNhn
Acquiring Hornqvist in 2014 was the first piece of the puzzle that led to the Pens becoming back-to-back Stanley Cup champions. He helped the team change its mindset and attitude. His fellow Swede Carl Hagelin once called him “a true Viking,” which is a perfect description. -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) September 24, 2020
And finally, Colton Sceviour has played in 454 career NHL games split between Dallas and Florida. Jim Rutherford called him "a solid veteran player who has a lot of experience on the penalty kill.” -MC— Pens Inside Scoop (@PensInsideScoop) September 24, 2020
I would be more intrigued by Matheson if his contract was about four years shorter and they didn't already have so much money invested in other defensemen.— Adam Gretz (@AGretz) September 24, 2020
So we end the trade with an increase in salary for the Penguins. No idea which direction this heads next. You would hope that Pettersson is not the cap casualty here.— Jesse Marshall (@jmarshfof) September 24, 2020
Pens now have over $17M tied up in cap space for 5 left shot dmen. Someone has to go. Wonder which side pushed for Sceviour's inclusion. Seems like another 4th liner and they have enough of those. Could be play 3rd line w/ McCann? Any previous history there?— Eric Majeski (@LGP_netwolf) September 24, 2020
Left side of blue line currently:— Josh Yohe (@JoshYohe_PGH) September 24, 2020
• That sure is crowded
• Why did they sign Riikola?
• Which one is getting traded?
I have a tantalizing feeling that Penguins are going to buy out or move Jack Johnson in the next week which almost certainly means that Pettersson will be traded for some reason.— JFresh (@JFreshHockey) September 24, 2020
Hornqvist was great here. Salute. Sceviour was a make-weight cap-wise for Florida. Will prove of little consequence. Matheson has a skill set that fits how Pens play, &they could fix him like they did Pettersson. That would ironic if Pettersson leaves.— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) September 24, 2020
You can't evaluate this deal 'til we see what the roster looks lie a few more deals from now. It's a third-line wing for a third-pair def. It really can't be that great or that terrible either way.— Mark Madden (@MarkMaddenX) September 24, 2020
Patric Hörnqvist (traded to Florida) is an average 5v5 forward who can help your power-play (incl. by drawing a lot of penalties) a lot but not by shooting the puck himself. pic.twitter.com/AQtZOaOHhv— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) September 24, 2020
Colton Sceviour (in return to Pittsburgh) is whatever the opposite of a two-way forward is, also with no shooting impact to speak of. pic.twitter.com/q31GDYLsF4— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) September 24, 2020
Mike Matheson (also to Pittsburgh) is a third-pair defender who kills penalties (not particularly well) and shoots the puck (quite well). He is better known for his very player-friendly contract. pic.twitter.com/jL3kSzNiQH— Micah Blake McCurdy (@IneffectiveMath) September 24, 2020
That last chart, you can’t help but notice the line is going straight down. Did the Pens project Hornqvist (34 in a few months) was dropping off too quickly? Could be a consideration. Hornqvist is probably a player that an NHL team has to trade one year too early, wait until he falls off the cliff to try and trade him one year too late and that could mean being stuck with his contract.
With that said, Matheson’s contracts is one of the worst values of the league. Which is pretty ironic since Hornqvist has long provided such great value for his salary, and now the Pens have replaced that with the opposite end of the spectrum.
Finally, I would advise to check Madden’s comments above too. This transaction right now isn’t going to be in a bubble. The Pens have too much salary and too many players on the left side. Something else is going to happen to re-shape the team in the coming days and weeks. Will that be ending our long national nightmare and dropping Jack Johnson? Trading Marcus Pettersson for a high-impact forward?
Impossible to say right now, but the Pens are clearly only at the start of their journey. Changes were promised, and changes are here.
The addition of Sceviour could influence the bottom six as well. Do the Pens give him a shot, or was his inclusion in this trade purely to let the Panthers dump another salary? If Pittsburgh has Sceviour in their plans, that means one less spot in the lineup for lower-end wingers like Zach Aston-Reese and Dominik Simon.
No matter what happens left, the Pens aimed to get younger and faster for next season. By dumping Hornqvist, one of their oldest and slowest skaters, they’re on path to do that, especially considering they’ve dropped the plodding Nick Bjugstad and picked up the speedy Kasperi Kapanen already this off-season.
And the Stanley Cup Final hasn’t even ended yet. The roster changes could be more towards the beginning than the end at this point, especially with how the left handed defensemen are stacked up on the roster.