Predators, Hornqvist now have frame of reference for contract talks

Tuesday, July 27, 2010 at 9:13pm

It was a transaction that generated little interest in most NHL cities, yet it might have been one of the most important developments for the Nashville Predators.

Forward Matt Moulson avoided arbitration Tuesday when he agreed to a one-year contract with the New York Islanders. He signed for $2.45 million and likely helped establish the market for Predators’ forward Patric Hornqvist, who currently is without a contract.

Moulson enjoyed a breakout season in 2009-10 when he played all 82 games for the Islanders. He scored 30 goals and had 18 assists

Prior to that, the 26-year-old had 29 games of NHL experience and a total of 10 points (six goals, four assists).

It was nearly identical to what happened with Hornqvist.

Three years younger than Moulson, Hornqvist scored a team-high 30 goals and added 21 assists in 80 appearances last season. Prior to that, he had appeared in 28 NHL contests and had seven points (two goals, five assists).

Nashville secured Hornqvist’s rights for the coming season when it made him the necessary qualifying offer (10 percent above last seasn’s salary of $620,000) by the July 1 deadline. Hornqvist chose not to sign that deal, which has since expired.

As such, he is the most high-profile of four Predators’ players currently without contracts. Three others, defenseman Cody Franson, center Mike Santorelli and minor league goalie Mark Dekanich, are in the same situation.

The Predators retain exclusive negotiating rights with all of those players but must sign them before they can participate in training camp, which opens in early September.

Now, they have a clearer idea of what it might cost to get a deal done with Hornqvist.