Hornqvist: from last pick to Olympian

By IAN BUSBY, QMI AGENCY

CALGARY -- Consider this stat: Nashville Predators forward Patric Hornqvist has more goals this season than the number of NHL games played by seven Calgary Flames prospects drafted in the same year he was.

As the final pick in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft, that makes Horqvist the opposite of Mr. Irrelevant.

"Some guys get lucky and get an opportunity," said the 23-year-old Swede, who entered last night's meeting against the Flames with 18 goals in 46 games.

"When you get the opportunity, you need to take it. Nashville gave me the opportunity. I'm playing pretty well right now and I will keep working hard and see what happens in the future.

"You are only 18 when you get drafted and a lot can happen after that. I was happy to get drafted at all. I'm happy I made it to the NHL, too.

"Somebody had to be the last guy drafted and I was happy to get picked by Nashville."

Hornqvist has seemingly come out of nowhere this season, although he isn't without some credentials.

In 2006-07, he broke Peter Forsberg's Swedish Elite League record with 23 goals as a rookie.

Although Hornqvist is just five-foot-11 and 183 lbs., he models his game after Detroit Red Wings crease presence Tomas Holmstrom.

They'll play together on the Swedish Olympic team in Vancouver.

"I try to look at him and learn from what he does around the net," Hornqvist said. "He's so good there.

"I'm there (in the slot) on the power play. I want to see if he can give me some tips. I just met him for the first time at our Olympic camp."

The reason Holmstrom is such a pest in the crease is he's hard to move, but Hornqvist doesn't have the size his idol does and will take a beating from defenceman.

"People make it out to be tougher than it is," Hornqvist said. "If you want to score goals, pretty much half of them are in front of the net. So if you want to score, you have to go there.

"I like to score goals and I like going in front of the net."

Since the start of the modern draft in 1969, only nine of the 41 players selected last have played even one NHL game.

Hornqvist is one of five who have scored more than four goals and played in more than 50 games.

IAN.BUSBY@SUNMEDIA.CA

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