One player, drafted by the Nashville Predators in the second round of the 2008 NHL Entry Draft, and the other, acquired via trade shortly after being drafted by the Washington Capitals in the 2012 Draft. Roman Josi and Filip Forsberg may have joined the team through different methods, but the one thing they share is their importance and dedication to the club. As Josi surpassed the 700-game mark this season and with Forsberg surpassing the 500-game mark, they both aim for some very important milestones — the leaderboards in franchise goals, assists and points.
Former Predator and long-time serving captain David Legwand holds on to all three statistical categories to date. While he didn’t complete his career in Nashville, his 14 seasons with the team allowed him to accumulate 210 goals and 356 assists for 566 points in the gold, navy blue and white colours. Martin Erat, who was involved in the trade for the aforementioned Forsberg, remains second on the board for franchise points, while names like Shea Weber, Craig Smith, Viktor Arvidsson and Kimmo Timonen appear on the list for goals and assists.
How possible is it for one or both to reach the top? It may come as soon as this season or next, pending contract situations and the general health of both players.
Filip Forsberg — The Goal-Scoring Swede
In April of 2013, the Capitals were in the hunt for another push for their sixth consecutive playoff appearance. They finished first in their division in four of the last five seasons prior to the 2012-13 campaign, coming in second in the other, but could never make it past the second round. While they finished atop their division again that season, management felt the need for some extra firepower up front, and that’s when they made the decision to send the recently-drafted Forsberg to Nashville for Erat and minor-leaguer Michael Latta. The trade, at the time, was seen as severely lopsided in favour of Nashville, landing them a highly-touted prospect with first-line potential. Almost 10 years later, Forsberg has achieved that, while both Erat and Latta have been out of the NHL for multiple seasons.
It wasn’t until the 2014-15 season that Forsberg became a regular in the NHL, but the extra conditioning with the Milwaukee Admirals, the Predators’ American Hockey League (AHL) affiliate, paid dividends for both the player and team. Forsberg, then 20 years of age, put up amazing numbers in a full 82-game season, scoring 26 goals and 37 assists for 63 points. His efforts earned him an NHL All-Star Game appearance, and he was also named to the All-Rookie Team. In each of the following five seasons, Forsberg scored no fewer than 20 goals while posting 64-point campaigns in two of those seasons.
This season, Forsberg has hovered around a point-per-game since his return from injury in late November. His 16 points in 17 games this season have him at a .94 point-per-game pace, equating to 77 points in an 82-game season. What’s impressive is that only four of his points this season have come on the power play, with the rest occurring 5-on-5. The one stat line that may not be sustainable, and understandably so, is his 21.2 percent shooting percentage. His 11 goals come on just 52 shots this season, and he’s averaged 3.1 shots per game thus far, so considering one in almost every five shots goes in, it may not last for an entire season.
Still, this season’s performance leaves Forsberg 32 goals shy of surpassing Legwand’s 210 career goals with Nashville. At that rate, it would have Forsberg finishing with 43 goals on the year, eclipsing his personal-best 33 goals set during the 2015-16 season. If that were to happen, he would become the best goal scorer in Nashville franchise history. Considering this would only take Forsberg under 600 games to accomplish compared to Legwand’s 956 games played, this would be a major feat. The one thing that remains uncertain is his contract situation after this season. Forsberg is set to become an unrestricted free agent and is due for a raise from his current $6 million price tag. If general manager David Poile can entice the Swedish forward to return, it’ll be a guarantee Forsberg becomes the franchise leader in goals.
Roman Josi — Nashville’s Greatest Player?
In a perfect world, Josi finishes this season and the following six seasons as a member of the Predators. If Nashville can remain a contender during that tenure, it is all but guaranteed he would become the all-time leader in games played, assists and points. The Swiss-born defenseman has been a contributing factor and game-changer for the club for 11 seasons, and at the age of 31, he shows no signs of letting up any time soon. In fact, this season may be even bigger and better for Josi compared to the last.
To date, Josi currently sits 250 games shy of reaching Legwand and his 956 games. To surpass him, it would take health, first and foremost, and to continue living up to his current contract that pays him just over $9 million per season. If all the stars aligned, Josi would become the player with the most games played for Nashville by the 2024-25 season.
Averaging 25:06 for ice time this season, Josi is also placing himself in a fine position to become their points and assists leader while also posing a challenge to Forsberg for the position of all-time leader in goal scoring. His 2021-22 campaign kicked off with a bang, posting 25 points in 26 games and equaling his goal total from last season at eight in 22 fewer games. His strong start has put him in early Norris Trophy discussions, as Josi sits at a .92 point-per-game pace. This would finish him at his second-best season offensively, just falling short of his .94 pace two seasons ago — the very year he captured his first Norris.
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With 345 assists in his career, this puts Josi 12 assists shy of surpassing Legwand and his 356 assists. Having played in 250 fewer games and also being a defenseman, this kind of accomplishment hasn’t gone unnoticed by the team and the fanbase. It’s only a matter of time before he claims the top spot in the assists category, and the points total will come shortly after. Perhaps not this season, and potentially not next season either, barring a major offensive explosion, but Josi is just 96 points shy of reaching that spot and cementing his legacy as the greatest Nashville Predator to ever play for the franchise.
Regardless of when, the refreshing prospect of these situations is that Forsberg is only 27 and Josi is 31. Their careers are far from over, leaving them a multitude of seasons to not only surpass Legwand’s fabulous career, but also put a tremendous gap between them and the future of this organization. We may never see another forward like Forsberg or a defenseman like Josi ever again in Nashville. Their careers will be a part of Predators’ history for decades and may ultimately be unobtainable. If only it could be paired with a Stanley Cup parade down the line, their numbers could one day sit atop the rafters along with that prestigious banner.
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Covering the Nashville Predators. I work for a company called SPORTLOGiQ and have loved the game of Hockey for over three decades. I’m obsessed with advanced analytics and pair that with my love for the eye test – i.e. watching the games (I DO that too!)