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Forsberg contract perfect for forward, Predators

Nashville locks up another young star with six-year, $36 million contract

by Amalie Benjamin @amaliebenjamin / Staff Writer

Six years sounded perfect to Filip Forsberg. It sounded pretty good to the Nashville Predators too, who were happy to lock up their leading scorer the previous two seasons for the reasonable price of $36 million over six seasons, keeping the 21-year-old restricted free agent in town through 2021-2022, when he will be 27. 

"I never really thought about anything else than staying with Nashville," Forsberg said Monday. "I think we've got something really interesting going and I want to be a part of that."

It was another good move for Predators general manager David Poile, who has a number of important young players signed to team-friendly deals for the next few seasons, including defensemen Roman Josi ($4 million cap hit), Mattias Ekholm ($3.75 million) and Ryan Ellis ($2.5 million), all of whom are signed through at least the next three seasons.

Forsberg, though, is the Predators' engine, having scored 33 goals and 31 assists last season, following up a season when he scored 26 goals and had 37 assists. Those 127 points over the past two seasons rank 24th in the NHL among forwards, and his 59 goals are tied for 14th-most with Tampa Bay Lightning wing Nikita Kucherov.

"Filip is among the most skilled, dynamic talents we've ever had in the organization and is an integral part of our success for the next six years and beyond," general manager David Poile said in a statement Monday. "While we have already seen his creativity, hockey sense and puck skills, he has yet to reach the peak of his abilities. We have full confidence that he will continue to blossom into one of the top players in the world."

Video: Filip Forsberg signs deal with Nashville

The signing could have reverberations through the League. There are multiple young stars up for new contracts, players like the Lightning's Kucherov, who is 14 months older than Forsberg, but who put up similar numbers in 2015-2016. 

Kucherov was dynamic in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, too, when he scored 11 goals and eight assists in 17 games for the Lightning, after a season when he scored 30 goals and had 36 assists in 77 games. That leaves him due for a significant raise on the $700,000 salary he earned this season, according to General Fanager, which is part of what has squeezed the Lightning in their bid to sign captain and unrestricted free agent Steven Stamkos, knowing that a number of their young players will need new contracts in the near future.

But Kucherov isn't the only big-name restricted free agent up for a new contract. 

The list continues with Calgary Flames forward Johnny Gaudreau and Colorado Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon, who each should receive contracts similar to Forsberg's. Forsberg's contract, in turn, lined up with the ones signed by Aleksander Barkov of the Florida Panthers (six years, reportedly $35.4 million) in January and Brandon Saad of the Columbus Blue Jackets (six years, reportedly $36 million) last July. Another comparable, on the high end, could be the eight years and $60 million the St. Louis Blues gave to Vladimir Tarasenko a year ago. 

Video: SJS@NSH, Gm3: Forsberg's perfect shot beats Jones

While the agents and the general managers will be hashing out those new contracts, Forsberg has been watching his phone fill up with messages and well wishes. He has no big celebration planned, but he can see (and hope) that there might be more celebrating to do in the future, not just regarding his paycheck, but also the results that he believes he can expect from the Predators.

The Predators, after all, made it to the Western Conference Second Round before falling to the eventual Western Conference champion San Jose Sharks in a seven-game series. Nashville has players signed to long-term, team-friendly contracts and has a future that is looking rather sunny at the moment.

"Nashville's great, the staff is awesome, the ownership is great, the fans are [some of] the best in the League, if not the loudest," Forsberg said. "Why wouldn't you want to play where you really like it? 

"Our team has been growing and growing for every year, this year was no exception. We had a really good Cup run and we've got the pieces, in my opinion, to take the next step in the future. I want to be a part of that, that's for sure."

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