NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - After missing the playoffs for the first time since 2009, the Nashville Predators began their rebuilding process Tuesday by agreeing to a long-term deal with forward Patric Hornqvist.
Hornqvist signed a five-year, $21.25 million contract to stay in Nashville, where he has spent his five-year NHL career and has emerged as one of the Predators' top offensive weapons.
``I think we have something really good here going,'' Hornqvist said at a news conference announcing the signing. ``Obviously we know we had a bad season this year. I think everybody is going to come back and improve and have a run in the playoffs next year. ``
Injuries limited the 26-year-old Hornqvist to four goals and 10 assists in 24 games this season, as the Predators scored a league-low 111 goals. After advancing beyond the first round of the playoffs in 2011 and 2012, Nashville went 16-23-9 this year to finish below .500 for the first time since 2002-03.
``We absolutely missed his play this year with the injuries that he had,'' Predators general manager David Poile said.
When he's healthy, Hornqvist is one of the Predators' top offensive players.
Hornqvist scored 30 goals in 2009-10 to become the fourth player in franchise history to reach that benchmark. He tied for second in the NHL with eight game-winning goals that season.
He followed that up with 21 goals in 2010-11 and provided a team-high 27 goals in 2011-12. He ranks eighth on the franchise's all-time list in power-play goals (28) and is 10th in overall goals (84).
``He is a unique player,'' Poile said. ``He is one of the fiercest competitors in the National Hockey League. He has that net presence like nobody else. He's a courageous player. He can score goals. He brings a lot of energy to our team.''
Now he has a chance to continue bringing that energy for many years to come.
``I want to stay here,'' Hornqvist said. ``I really like it here. It's a great place to live and great place to play, and the fans are great.''
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