In a summer when so many big name wingers are potentially available either via trade or free agency, get ready to add another name to the growing list, 28-year-old Nashville Predator Filip Forsberg could be on the move this summer as he prepares to make it to free agency for the first time in his career.
The Predators have offered him an eight-year deal to remain with the club, but the unrestricted free agent is seemingly uncommitted at this moment to sticking around in Nashville, but rather may test his luck in the free agency market. If he chooses that path, he will immediately rise to the top of many team’s wishlists, alongside his August 13 birthday buddy Johnny Gaudreau as the best available forwards.
Forsberg had a career year in 2021-22, posting 42 goals and 82 points in just 69 games, leading the renaissance of a Predators’ roster that far exceeded expectations last season. He’s up to 220 goals and 469 points in 566 career games, all spent in Nashville. He’s a player who isn’t going to pass up a shooting chance, but he also knows how to be a top play maker when necessary as evidenced by his league-leading 5v5 primary assists per 60 minutes back in 2017-18.
If that’s not enticing enough, Forsberg has had plenty of success on the powerplay during his career. 27 of his 84 points were scored on the man advantage this season, and 54 of his 164 points, a full one-third of his point total, over the last three seasons came via the powerplay.
Forsberg seems like an interesting option come free agency. He doesn’t have the pop and circumstance surrounding him that Johnny Gaudreau does, he hasn’t drawn the national attention that Alex DeBrincat has, and it’s been quite awhile since Forsberg was a household name, spending the last few years under the radar, his back-to-back 30-goals season from 2014 to 2016 feeling like a lifetime ago, hell even his 42-goal 2021-22 season may come as a surprise if you weren’t paying attention.
He may be a sleeper signing compared to other names available, but that’s not to say he’s uncoveted by any means, but it could indicate he may clock in slightly cheaper than his Calgary Flames counterpart. Forsberg signed a six-year, $36 million ($6 million aav) deal in 2016 and will undoubtedly see a nice little pay raise this summer, regardless of whether or not he leaves Nashville.
Rumor has it Gaudreau could be looking for a $10 million aav, which isn’t totally unjustified for the 115-point winger. If he establishes the market at that number, Forsberg should (realistically) clock in around $8.5 to $9 million. That million dollar difference could be of big interest to a team like the Flyers, who need to make every dollar count.
Forsberg’s success in Nashville provides an interesting comparison to the Flyers, as he has found ways to excel offensively on a team that has been in the bottom third of goals for per game since about 2018, and his explosion this year was created by the turnaround in play by Matt Duchene, Mikael Granlund and Ryan Johansen. In the Flyers’ realm, they’ve been an offensively anemic team for much of the last two seasons and now without Giroux, the primary source of their offense, they’ll have to get creative to find regular production from this lineup. Though, if everything goes well and they somehow squeeze some offense out of this team, Forsberg will only benefit as a result. Forsberg should be able to be good without any help, but great on a powerhouse team.
Does Filip Forsberg leave Nashville? It still doesn’t seem like a sure thing, but if he ultimately decides to test free agency, the Flyers have to make it count. He’s a bigger body (listed at 6’1 and 205lbs) and can shoot the puck better than anyone who has donned a Flyers’ jersey in well over a decade. He may not have the hometown ties of Gaudreau or the youthful vigor of DeBrincat, but a sniper with tremendous powerplay success who can succeed without having to ride shotgun with another star matches the exact prescription the doctor ordered in Philly.
By: Dan Esche (@DanTheFlyeraFan)
photo credit: nhl.com