Patric Hornqvist was asleep at his home in Sweden when his phone rang last Friday.
The caller was the Nashville Predators general manager.
“I was in bed and saw David Poile calling me,” Hornqvist said. “I picked up my phone and he told me the news that I was traded to Pittsburgh.”
Poile alerted Hornqvist that he and winger Nick Spaling were sent to the Penguins in exchange for James Neal.
“I was shocked. The first couple of hours I thought it was a dream,” Hornqvist, 27, said. “After a few hours I was so happy Pittsburgh wanted me. I’ve only heard good things about Pittsburgh, the team, the organization.”
Hornqvist certainly has offensive skill. He’s a four-time 20-goal scorer that once hit 30 in a season. But what the Penguins really love about the Sollentuna, Sweden native is the way he plays the game. Hornqvist likes to crash the net, work the corners and get his hands dirty.
“I’ll bring energy to the team and work as hard as I can every single night and go hard to the net,” Hornqvist said. “I can’t change anything. They know what kind of player they got. Hopefully I can show it and be good for the organization and the team to help them win.”
Hornqvist wasn’t always that type of player. While playing for Djurgardens of the Swedish Elite League, he was more of a perimeter player. It wasn’t until arriving in Nashville that he adapted his game.
“When I was playing in Europe I was more of a high-slot guy,” Hornqvist said. “When I came to Nashville I was trying to go in front of the net. They put me in front of the net on the power play. After that I got more ice time on the power play and the puck started to go in. From then on I was always trying to go hard to the net and score those greasy goals.”
Hornqvist will likely play among the Penguins’ top-6 forward grouping, meaning he’ll be playing alongside either Sidney Crosby or Evgeni Malkin.
“I have a great opportunity in front of me playing with the two best centermen in the world,” Hornqvist said. “I’m not going to change my game. I’ll still go hard to the net and try to score goals around the net.”
While he will relish the opportunity to play with such talented superstars, more appealing to Hornqvist is playing for a team that will compete for a Stanley Cup. The Predators have only made the playoffs three times during Hornqvist's six years with the team.
“I see Pittsburgh as a Cup-winning team,” Hornqvist said. “They always have good forwards and a good goalie. I always looked forward to playing against them, against the two best players in the world.
“I’m so happy about this opportunity, coming to a good organization and good team and have a great chance to win. I’m excited and looking forward for the season to start.”