The Nashville Predators activated rookie Filip Forsberg (concussion) off injured reserve Wednesday, then assigned him to their AHL affiliate in Milwaukee.
According to Preds head coach Barry Trotz, this was the plan all along.
“Once he’s up to speed, he should start in Milwaukee, because he has missed over a month now, and that’s hard to go right back,” Trotz told The Tennessean. “He needs to get touches with the puck, and once he does that I assume, and I expect him to get his game back where he can contribute up here.”
Exactly when Forsberg starts contributing in Nashville remains to be seen.
The 19-year-old is still eligible to play for Sweden at the World Juniors and, given he was a member of the silver medal-winning team in ’13 and gold medal-winning team in ’12, is probably coveted by the Swedish Hockey Federation for this year’s tourney.
Last week, Trotz floated the idea of Forsberg taking part.
“If he’s ready to come back and play, him and his agent have been offered the chance to play for Sweden,” Trotz told The Game radio 102.5 Nashville, as per Section 303. “We need him back playing, whatever level that may be, a the World Junior Championships, for us or for Milwaukee.
“He’s a young player that needs to be playing.”
Pavel Zacha was this close to making his NHL debut.
Just days prior to opening their season against the Jets, the Devils returned Zacha — the sixth overall pick at this year’s draft — back to his junior club in OHL Sarnia.
The move comes after Zacha, 18, impressed throughout training camp and the preseason. He appeared in four exhibition games for New Jersey, scoring one point while endearing himself to the organizational brass, coaching staff and players.
“He understands the game. He plays with a maturity. It’s crazy to think an 18-year-old coming out of high school is up here and playing with the maturity and understanding of the game with the new system,” Kyle Palmieri told NJ.com. “I think he’s got a lot of raw talent there as a power forward. He’s got the body for it, the puck-handling skills and the nose for the net.”
At 6-foot-3 and 210 pounds, Zacha has the frame and physical stature to play at the NHL level, and looked the part for long stretches of the exhibition season, getting turns on New Jersey’s top line.
The decision to send him back to junior is probably the right one, however.
Zacha only turned 18 in April and has limited experience even at the OHL level; ’14-15 was his first year with Sarnia, though he did appear in 38 Czech League games (for Liberec) the season prior.
There’s another Raffl in the NHL.
On Tuesday, the Jets announced that Thomas Raffl — the older brother of Flyers forward Michael Raffl — has signed a one-year, one-way deal worth $575,000.
Raffl, 29, was in Winnipeg’s camp on a PTO after a lengthy career in Europe. He spent time playing in Sweden and his native Austria, most recently with powerhouse EC Red Bull Salzburg — last year, Raffl scored 53 points in 52 games for Salzburg and three in seven games for Austria while serving as team captain at the World Hockey Championships.
“We would like to recognize and express our appreciation to the EC Red Bull Salzburg organization for allowing Thomas and the Winnipeg Jets this opportunity,” Jets GM Kevin Cheveldayoff said in a statement.
With the Jets, Raffl projects to play in the bottom-six forward group, where he can utilize his 6-foot-4, 215-pound frame in a checking-slash-energy role.
For now, though, he’ll start out with the club’s AHL affiliate in Manitoba.