If there’s one player in the Nashville Predators organization who might benefit immediately from Peter Laviolette coaching the team, it’s forward Filip Forsberg.
At 19 years old, Forsberg is heading into technically his third pro season. Two seasons ago, he played five games for the Predators after they acquired him in a trade with the Washington Capitals. Last season, he spent the bulk of his time in the AHL with the Milwaukee Admirals. There he played 47 games and had 15 goals with 34 assists.
While he played in 13 games with the Predators last season scoring one goal with five points, he averaged just over 11 minutes of ice time per game. Injuries helped slow him down a bit, but we didn’t really seen what Forsberg could do while under Barry Trotz, but Laviolette could provide the change he needs.
Forsberg will have the opportunity to show what made the Caps pick him 11th overall in the 2012 Draft, but it won’t be easy. Competition in Predators training camp at center should be fierce with a mix of veterans and youth.
The Preds added Olli Jokinen, Mike Ribeiro, and Derek Roy in free agency and made the middle of the ice a bit crowded in Music City. Throw in fellow Swede Calle Jarnkrok, who they acquired from the Detroit Red Wings in the David Legwand trade, and the competition just amongst the new guys will be stiff. Never mind Matt Cullen, Paul Gaustad, and eventually Mike Fisher (out 4-6 months with a torn Achilles) who are already established there.
Having more than a few centers wasn’t an issue for Laviolette in Philadelphia, so it’s possible Forsberg might find a way to push his way onto the big club’s roster on the wing. That said, Forsberg is the youngest player out of the group. Jarnkrok is 22 while the trio of Jokinen, Ribeiro, and Roy have loads of NHL experience.
With how things are set up, it seems like Forsberg is almost destined to return to Milwaukee and continue his development there. That puts it on him to show what he can do in September and prove potential can win out over age and experience.