Filip Forsberg could be on the verge of a monster season for the Predators


This is part of Nashville Predators day at PHT…

When looking at the 2016-17 Nashville Predators the first thing that is going to stand out is obviously their defense.

It might be the best unit in the NHL, it has one of the games biggest superstars, and it is going to be the foundation of a team that should seriously compete for the Stanley Cup.

But the forwards on this team aren’t exactly lacking in the talent department, either.

Between Filip Forsberg and James Neal they had a pair of 30-goal scorers a season ago, while Ryan Johansen is one of the games best young players at center.

Forsberg is the guy that really makes this group work, and based on what he has done over his first two full seasons in the league should be on the verge of taking another big step in his development and taking his game to an even higher level.

Since becoming a regular in the Predators’ lineup two years ago, Forsberg is 14th in the NHL in goals scored and 26th in total points, clearly making him one of the most productive players in the NHL. Those numbers are even more impressive when you consider he is just now entering his age 22 season. He is one of only two players in the top-15 in goals scored over the last two years, and one of only four players in the top-30 in total points, to be under the age of 24.

The age thing is what really drives home just how impressive his production has been so far in his young career.

Over the past 20 years he is one of just 13 players to have two seasons of at least 25 goals and 60 total points before turning 22. The other players on the list are Steven Stamkos, Sidney Crosby, Alex Ovechkin, Marian Gaborik, Patrick Kane, Anze Kopitar, Evgeni Malkin, John Tavares, Jonathan Toews, Ilya Kovalchuk, Sean Monahan and … Jeff Friesen (Yes. Jeff Friesen).

Being included in that group should give you an idea as to just how productive Forsberg has already been and the type of potential he might have in the coming seasons. As that list of names shows, players that are this productive at this age generally go on to become superstar type players in the NHL. Friesen is obviously the exception on that list but it’s not like he was a bad player (he was usually good for 25 goals and 50 points every year at the height of the dead puck era … that’s a pretty good player).

Historically, scorers tend to hit their peak levels of production between the ages of 23 and 26, and they usually start to take big steps forward when they reach the point where Forsberg is right now. If you just look at the 12 previous players on the aforementioned list, nine of them went on to average more than 0.95 points per game (that is 77 points over 82 games — a level that would have been top-10 in the NHL this past season) in their age 22 season.

The only ones that did not reach that level were Gaborik (his age 22 season was cancelled because of the 2004 lockout — he came back at age 23 and average 1.01 points per game) and Friesen.

Monahan, like Forsberg, is only entering his age 22 season this year.

Given what Forsberg has already done in his career, his own individual talent, as well the talent he will have around him, he has the potential to be one of the top scorers in the NHL as soon as this season.

Canucks’ Ilya Mikheyev to have season-ending knee surgery

Ilya Mikheyev
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VANCOUVER, British Columbia — Vancouver Canucks right wing Ilya Mikheyev is set to have season-ending surgery on his left knee.

Canucks general manager Patrik Allvin said Friday night the 28-year-old Russian forward tore the anterior cruciate ligament in his left knee in the team’s first preseason game Sept. 25. Mikheyev will undergo surgery next week and is expected to be ready for training camp in the fall.

Mikheyev was originally listed as week-to-week with the injury and played 45 regular-season games, finishing with 13 goals and 15 assists. He scored in his final appearance Friday night, a 5-2 home victory over Columbus.

Mikheyev signed a four-year, $19 million contract as a free agent last summer.

Maple Leafs’ Matthews out at least 3 weeks with knee injury

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Toronto Maple Leafs center Auston Matthews will miss at least three weeks with a sprained knee.

The team announced the reigning MVP’s anticipated absence Friday, two days after Matthews was injured in Toronto’s victory against the New York Rangers.

Matthews is expected to miss at least six games and could be out for a few more. The timing of the injury coinciding with the NHL All-Star break and the Maple Leafs bye week prevents this from costing Matthews more time out of the lineup.

After being voted an All-Star by fans, Matthews is now out of the event scheduled for Feb. 3-4 in Sunrise, Florida. The league announced Aleskander Barkov from the host Florida Panthers will take Matthews’ place on the Atlantic Division All-Star roster.

Matthews, who won the Hart Trophy last season after leading the NHL with 60 goals, has 53 points in 47 games this season.

Caufield opted for surgery with Habs out of playoff race

caufield surgery
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MONTREAL — Montreal Canadiens winger Cole Caufield said Friday he wouldn’t be having season-ending surgery on his right shoulder if the team were in playoff contention.

But with the Canadiens near the bottom of the Eastern Conference standings, the 22-year-old Caufield said he decided to have the surgery to protect his long-term health. The procedure is scheduled to be performed by Dr. Peter Millett on Wednesday.

“I didn’t want to stop playing,” Caufield said. “I had a couple tests done to look at it more clearly but, in the end, like it could’ve been one more fall and it could have been even worse.”

Caufield, who leads the Canadiens with 26 goals in 46 games, had three different medical opinions on his shoulder before concluding that his season was over.

“I think they’ve seen a lot more than I have and they know the differences and what they like or don’t like about it,” he said about the medical opinions. “Long term, I think this is what’s best but for sure it was tough to sit out that game against Toronto on Saturday night.”

Caufield initially felt the injury in an awkward fall during Montreal’s 4-2 loss at Dallas on Dec. 23. He said his right shoulder popped, and he replaced it himself.

Caufield felt it again in the Habs’ 4-3 loss at Nashville on Jan. 12. The club announced on Jan. 21 that Caufield would miss the rest of the season.

Caufield is nearing the end of his three-year, entry-level contract and will be a restricted free agent this summer.

All-Star Matty Beniers to miss next 2 games for Kraken

matty beniers
Joe Nicholson/USA TODAY Sports

SEATTLE — Seattle Kraken rookie All-Star Matty Beniers will miss the team’s final two games before the All-Star break after taking a big hit from Vancouver’s Tyler Myers earlier this week.

Seattle coach Dave Hakstol said after morning skate Friday that Beniers would not play Friday night against Calgary or Saturday against Columbus. Hakstol did not speculate on Beniers’ availability for next weekend’s All-Star Game in Florida.

The team has not specified what kind of injury Beniers sustained from the hit. He was barreled over by Myers away from the play early in the second period in Wednesday’s 6-1 victory over Vancouver. Myers was penalized for interference on the play. Beniers returned briefly for one shift later in the period but did not play in the third period.

Beniers is Seattle’s lone All-Star selection this season. He leads all rookies in goals (17) and points (36), and is fifth in total ice time for rookies.

Seattle also placed defenseman Justin Schultz on injured reserve and recalled forward Max McCormick from Coachella Valley of the AHL. Hakstol said Schultz is improving but there’s no timeline on his return.