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Predators' Forsberg hoping for goals, NHL role

by Josh Cooper

ANTIOCH, Tenn. -- In one game during a rookie tournament last weekend at Ford Ice Center, Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg showed why he is a prominent as well as a frustrating prospect.

A lack of discipline put Forsberg in the penalty box against the Tampa Bay Lightning three times. An abundance of skill led to him scoring a goal in overtime, as well as assisting on a goal by Kevin Fiala.

"It was a great end for sure for me and also for the team. But three penalties was not acceptable," said Forsberg, No. 12 on the Top 60 prospect rankings for this season.

The Predators have heaped high expectations on the 2012 first-round pick (No. 11) of the Washington Capitals, whom they acquired for Martin Erat in 2013. The 20-year-old has yet to reach those lofty levels, however, with one goal in 18 NHL games during the past two seasons.


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The hope remains that the 6-foot-1, 200-pound forward can start moving forward in his development this season.

"He gets better each and every practice. He's a hard worker and has a great shot," teammate Brendan Leipsic said. "I think it's a matter of time before he starts doing things in this League."

With Forsberg, it's all about his wrist shot. Former Predators coach Barry Trotz used to say someone didn't have to even see it to know it was hard and accurate; they could tell just by listening to it. Last season it didn't lead to a lot of goals, even in the American Hockey League.

Forsberg scored 15 goals on 146 shots on goal in 47 games with Milwaukee last season, for a 10.2 shooting percentage. But Forsberg said there was a learning curve. He had played almost solely on larger international rinks, and last season was his first full season in North America.

"[Last] year helped me a lot and getting more comfortable here," Forsberg said. "Hopefully I can show how much that year meant to me."

That still may not be this season in Nashville. The Predators added several forwards during the summer, including James Neal, Derek Roy, Mike Ribeiro and Olli Jokinen, in an attempt to boost their offense and give new coach Peter Laviolette more tools to work with.

While this may help Nashville's immediate future, it may not hasten Forsberg's path to the NHL. In fact, the large grouping of forwards may block his route from Milwaukee to Nashville.

But it's easy to forget that Forsberg still is maturing. He was 17 years old when he was drafted and didn't turn 20 until last month. If Forsberg doesn't make Nashville this season, he can continue to develop in Milwaukee with the occasional call-up to give him a taste of the NHL.

Though Forsberg has stated that his goal this season is to be in the NHL, being patient may not be such a bad directive in regard to his long-term development.

"I am the player I am," Forsberg said. "I have to step up some detail things. But if I quit playing the way I play I won't be as good as I can be. I'm going to try to get better at the small details and try to improve the type of game I'm playing too."

Also, Laviolette could help Forsberg's cause. The coach is credited with developing forwards Eric Staal with the Carolina Hurricanes and Claude Giroux and Jakub Voracek with the Philadelphia Flyers. Young forwards like Forsberg were a major reason why the Predators hired Laviolette.

"He has a really good reputation and that is for a reason," Forsberg said.

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