If any player for the Nashville Predators is capable of reaching the 80 point mark in a season (something that’s only happened once before), it’s probably Filip Forsberg. 

And with the way Forsberg is playing right now, it might as well happen in the 2018-19 season.

This may seem like high expectations for such a young player (he just turned 24), but when you look at his career trajectory, it seems almost destined to be true. Forsberg finished with 64 points last year, which ties a career high for a season. But when you consider he only played in 67 games, it was an impressive performance.

In fact, Forsberg’s 2017-18 season ranks among the best seasons for a Nashville Predators player in franchise history when looking at points per game:

  1. Paul Kariya: 1.04 ppg (2005-06)
  2. Steve Sullivan: .99 ppg (2005-06)
  3. Filip Forsberg: .97 ppg (2017-18)

Source: Hockey-Reference.com

If not for the wrist injury in January and the bogus three game suspension in February, Forsberg almost certainly reaches the 70 point mark last year (something that’s only been done four times before in Predators history). 

And while it’s only preseason, he’s already scored a hat trick in the last week and he looks ready to go for the start of the season.

We all know about Forsberg’s skill on the ice, but he seems to have taken a few steps forward in the last few months. We all remember his highlight reel plays against the Avalanche in the playoffs last year, but don’t forget he also led the team with 16 points in 13 playoff games.

I think that trend continues into this season. One way or another, Filip Forsberg ends up at the top of the franchise record books. Whether he breaks the record for points in a season (85 – Paul Kariya) or goals in a season (33 – Filip Forsberg and Jason Arnott), Forsberg is going to make history this year. 

Preseason hockey: the good and the bad

The Preds have played four preseason games with mixed results. Two have been excellent (a 5-0 and 5-3 win against Florida) and two have been duds (a 5-1 and 5-2 loss to Tampa).

What have we seen that’s worth mentioning? Here’s a few thoughts:

  • For the most part, the defense has been underwhelming. But that’s with a few bizarre combinations and players playing in roles they won’t have in the regular season. Once the team settles into the most likely top three pairs (Subban and Ekholm, Josi and Ellis, Hamhuis and Weber), I suspect we will see the level of defensive play we are used to.
  • Pekka Rinne never looks all that impressive in preseason hockey and that trend continues this year. I doubt it means much. He’ll be the starter on opening night.
  • Juuse Saros on the other hand looks quite impressive. He kept the Preds in the game on Saturday night and looks as quick as ever.
  • Eeli Tolvanen, who needed a good camp, has not delivered. I’m starting to doubt whether he will be there on opening night, but I am still holding out hope. He desperately needs something positive on Tuesday.
  • The bottom six might come more into view this week, but it’s likely going to be a mix of Jarnkrok, Bonino, Salomaki, Sissons, Hartman, and Gaudreau. There’s a chance Rinaldo could slot in there, but I’ll talk about him in a bit.
  • The Preds made several moves yesterday, none of which were surprising.

GIF Me That Good Stuff

Craig Smith hates preseason hockey.

Let’s Do That Hockey

Tuesday 9/25 – 7:00 PM: Predators vs Hurricanes Preseason Game [home, FS-TN]

Sunday 9/30 – 12:30 PM: Predators @ Hurricanes [away, not televised]

Final Thought

There’s a growing buzz about Zac Rinaldo. From the coaching staff to many in local media, a lot of folks seem to think he will make the roster out of camp and possibly even be in the starting lineup in October.

With the way things are shaking out, given Peter Laviolette’s proclivity for having Rinaldo’s brand of hockey close at hand (Rinaldo played with Laviolette’s Flyers for the first three years of his career), I’d say it’s almost a foregone conclusion. 

But that doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

Rinaldo has proven that he is not deserving of an NHL contract. He’s played 328 career NHL games and collected 34 points, a .10 point per game pace. At 2.13 penalty minutes per game, he’s almost guaranteed to be in the box if he’s in the lineup. He’s also arguably been one of the worst puck possession players in the league since 2012. And he’s been suspended a total of 25 games in the NHL, by far the most in the league since 2012.

Yes, Zac Rinaldo might make the Nashville Predators roster out of camp. No, he won’t make them a better team.

— Featured image via NHL.com —

 

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