There is not a more impressive rookie in the League right now than Filip Forsberg. Through twelve games, the Nashville Predators’ winger leads the team in points with 12 (4 goals, 8 assists) and leads the NHL in +/- with +14. The 2013 trade deadline deal is beginning to look better for Nashville general manager David Poile, who traded Martin Erat and Michael Latta to the Washington Capitals in exchange for the talented prospect.
The native of Ostervala, Sweden was drafted 11th overall in 2012 by Washington. However, Forsberg made his NHL debut in Nashville in the final stretch of the season. He became the third-youngest player to play for Nashville behind Scott Hartnell and David Legwand. Appearing in 5 games, Forsberg gave the franchise something to look forward entering next season.
Forsberg began the 2013-14 season with a lower-body injury that kept him out the first 2 games of the year. After recovering, he played in 12 games before suffering a month-long upper-body injury. Former head coach Barry Trotz did not want to rush his return, so for recovery, Forsberg represented Team Sweden at the World Junior Championship. An impressive outing in Malmo ended his WJC career at 7 goals, 11 assists in 19 games over a span of 3 years.
Nashville called him up for one game following the silver-medal winning performance, but Forsberg spent the rest of the season with the organization’s AHL affiliate Milwaukee Admirals. In 47 games, he tallied 20 goals, 22 assists.
Entering the 2014-15 year, Forsberg had to prove he was worthy of making the team out of training camp. With a new offensive-minded Peter Laviolette as head coach that would bring out the best in Forsberg, he had little trouble fitting into the system.
“[Laviolette] likes to play a little bit more offensive hockey than the Preds might have been doing the last couple years, so hopefully that can fit me well,” Forsberg said in June.
In the last two attempts at the NHL, it was clear that Forsberg was not ready physically to play in the big leagues. At 20, he grew into a nice frame of 6-foot-1, 186-pounds.
“I feel stronger after playing one year here in North America,” Forsberg said. “I’m just trying to work out as hard as possible and be ready as possible.”
Forsberg not only lived up to expectations for this season, but has exceeded them so far. This fast start from “Prince Filip” was surprising after having played in a combined 18 games the previous two seasons, amounting 1 goal, 5 assists and -13 rating. His excellence has granted him the right to play alongside established scorer James Neal on the first line.
Leading all rookies in points, it begs the question whether Forsberg will win the Calder Trophy, something that has yet to be accomplished in the Predators’ franchise history. The competition is Los Angeles Kings’ Tanner Pearson, who won Rookie of the Month for October. An 82-game season will prove the true endurance and strength of Forsberg in the NHL.