The Nashville Predators have an interesting dilemma on their hands throughout this season, and potentially at the beginning of the next offseason. Filip Forsberg is in the final year of his contract, and it is still very much up in the air whether or not he will be wearing a gold jersey next season.
At this moment, the chances of him staying in Nashville do not look great. When asked about his future on or off of the Predators in late September, this is what he had to say.
At first glance, this does not look promising if you are a Predators fan. If he was truly intent on re-signing in Nashville, you would not only think he would have indicated that, but reached an agreement on a new deal by now. After all, Roman Josi and Mattias Ekholm made it very clear that they wanted to remain in Nashville when it came time for them to sign new deals, and they got those done in October of their respective years.
Especially with the Predators not being in a state to compete for a Stanley Cup for this year and likely the next few, it is seeming that Forsberg would prefer to spend his prime years on a contending team while being able to maximize his value on the open market. If the trade deadline rolls around and he is anything less than certain that he wants to get a new contract done, David Poile needs to cut his losses and trade him for a haul of draft picks. Even if Forsberg is truly willing to work something out in order to remain in Music City, is it truly worth it for the Predators?
First of all, while he is very talented and has done great things for the Predators, what has he done to show that he is actually elite? He has never finished any season at a point-per-game rate, and on top of that, there always seems to be a stint or stints within the regular season in which he is injured. He has already battled an upper-body injury this season and just returned from it.
Secondly, look at this Predators team moving forward. Their future is already locked up into forwards such as Matt Duchene, Ryan Johansen, Mikael Granlund, Eeli Tolvanen, Philip Tomasino, and players such as Egor Afanasyev and Cody Glass may not be playing in Milwaukee much longer. That is a lot of players who are expected to contribute to the team’s top six, and even without Forsberg, not all of them will fit in.
With their trajectory and the money that Forsberg will demand — at least $8M per year — is it truly worth it for the Predators to prioritize him? They might be better off letting their own guys develop, adding more draft picks and quality prospects, and using that cap space elsewhere.
All of that being said, you have to realize that the Predators must be desperate for an elite forward, and who knows if any of their own guys will ever become that. In terms of trading for or signing an elite forward that has plenty of mileage left, there are not many options out there now or in the near future. About the only one out there who might be available soon is David Pastrnak, but even then, there is no reason to count on it.
If the Predators are not going to be able to land an elite forward, the next best option is a logjam of quality ones and the ability to roll four lines any given night. And especially looking at the chemistry that he has with Granlund and Duchene, might Poile just want to keep that going?
The bottom line is that this is going to be one of the hardest decisions that Poile and the rest of the Predators front office have faced in quite some time. With all of the uncertainty and Forsberg’s comments to the media, fans and the organization might want to start preparing for life after him.
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