NASHVILLE – Heralded forward Filip Forsberg will make his NHL debut on Sunday with the Nashville Predators, provided that everything goes according to plan, Nashville coach Barry Trotz said.
Nashville acquired Forsberg, the 11th pick in the 2012 NHL Draft, from the Washington Capitals before the April 3 trading deadline in exchange for long-time right wing Martin Erat and minor-league center Michael Latta. Forsberg, 18, played for Leksands IF this past season in Sweden's second division, but he helped the club to get promoted, and it will compete in that country's top league next season.
Trotz said Predators general manager David Poile spoke to Forsberg before he departed on his flight. Poile has said he hopes that Forsberg can evolve into the kind of dynamic forward that his team has lacked for the past few years.
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The Predators hope to get Forsberg in their system and possibly have him play with Milwaukee of the American Hockey League next season. Poile said he has spoken to the general manager of Leksands, the former NHL goalie Tommy Salo, to inform him of his intentions.
"He's been playing with their national team," Trotz said. "He played as recently as Monday. He's been skating. He feels that he would be capable of playing tomorrow so if his flight -- and there's no hang-ups in his flight -- and he'll be ready for the morning skate, if everything's all good, then I will put him in the lineup tomorrow."
On Sunday, Nashville will play host to the Detroit Red Wings, a team that has long been one of the League's best by employing a lineup stocked heavily with Forsberg's countrymen. The Predators have essentially fallen out of the race for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, losing eight out of nine, but the Red Wings are in a fight with seven games left. They began Saturday with a two-point lead over the Phoenix Coyotes, Columbus Blue Jackets and Dallas Stars for the Western Conference's eighth and final playoff spot. Dallas holds a game in hand on the others.
Forsberg is said to have been clearing up work visa-related issues in Sweden over the past few days and is ready to go from that perspective. The Predators just want to make sure he passes his physical, that his equipment arrives and that everything is in order.
Nashville has been beset by injuries and has called up numerous forwards from Milwaukee. In that sense, Trotz said he would fit right in.
"The only reservation I have is the plane has to land in this country with his equipment," Trotz said. "No, I've seen him and we're using young guys. So from my standpoint, there's not a reservation. How much I'll play him, I don't know. I really can't say…
"I think I'll try to put him in situations where he might be able to show off some his ability. Might put him on the power play or something like that… Even if he plays marginally, I think that's still a good experience for him."
In 33 games with Leksands, Forsberg averaged a point per game (15 goals and 18 assists). At the world junior championships, where the 6-foot-1, 188-pound center was Sweden's captain, he totaled three goals and two assists in six games.
Trotz was asked if he thought Forsberg might help to turn around his team's recent fortunes.
"I think it will help," he said. "It can't hurt."