Nashville Predators sniper Filip Forsberg has cashed in his 30th goal of the year, which means he’ll be cashing in off the ice soon enough.
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Filip Forsberg has been money down the stretch this year. Monday night he marked his 30th goal of the season in a bout with the Pacific-leading Los Angeles Kings- making him only the 5th Predator in franchise history to hit the 30-goal mark and the first since 2009-10.
What makes this achievement a bigger deal than simple statistical gratification for the 21-year-old Swede? He just happens to be performing at his highest level right when it matters most for any professional athlete- a contract year.
At the end of the 2015-16 season, Forsberg will be set to become a restricted free agent and sign his first contract beyond his rookie agreement- and Smashville is beginning to vibrate with the ever-increasing volume of his agent’s swooning.
Though the nature of his restricted free agency essentially gives Nashville dibs on the forward, the twisted-wrister lashed to such a young talent has undoubtedly raised the eyebrows of some front office varmints around the league. FanSided’s Too Many Men on the Site has suggested that the marriage of Forsberg’s situation and ability make him a candidate for an offer sheet proposition from another club- a notion which should leave the stomachs of Nashville’s faithful churning.
The phrase ‘offer sheet’ sparks to flame some dusty torches kept deep down in the chambers of repressed memories for Predators fans. The 2012 offseason staged a scene with the spotlight shining down on Nashville Captain Shea Weber signing a gargantuan 14-year, $110 million offer sheet with the Philadelphia Flyers- the 2nd largest contract in terms of total salary in NHL history.
However- offer sheet operations dictate that the team with rights to the player (for our purposes, Nashville) are allowed seven days to match the offer or allow the player to walk, in which case the team would garner draft-pick compensation. As history shows, Philadelphia’s attempt to poach the All-Pro defenseman from the small-market franchise ultimately proved fruitless as Nashville matched the offer- conceivably making Weber a Predator til every bit of his hair silvers.
Luckily for Preds fans, what made the Weber scenario a nightmare is what makes Forsberg’s likelihood of signing an offer sheet unlikely. Yes, Weber’s deal effectively marred Nashville’s small-market salary cap, but it also gave rise to significant changes in the CBA concerning the offer sheet and front-loaded contracts.
Simply put, offer sheets are a blue moon in the NHL today. Since the beginnings of the salary cap era in 2005-06, only 8 have been offered, and only one time has the team holding rights not matched the offer. They seem to carry the stigma of something like a fool’s errand- not impossible but in most cases a tremendous waste of time and resources.
Even with the offer sheet in mind- it’s tough to imagine the Predators allowing their leading goal-scorer to slip from their grasp. The front office has seen this day coming from well off- Nashville sits with a projected $9.4 million in end-of-season cap space, 5th most in the league according to General Fanager. (and, it’s worth noting, most amongst playoff competition).
The Predators are poised to re-sign core players, and Forsberg certainly fits that bill. The stagnancy at this year’s trade deadline suggests an adherence to Nashville’s plan structured to ensure they have the necessary capital on hand to return key pieces to the roster- not only securing a Forsberg deal this offseason, but addressing the looming cloud on the horizon that is the contracts of James Neal, Ryan Johansen, Mike Fisher, Mike Ribeiro, and Viktor Arvidsson all currently set to expire at the end of next season.
Forsberg has played like a rising star in this league, and will be looking to get paid like one. Check in with Part II of the ‘Forsberg Cashing In’ story as we look over just how much Nashville may have to pry open their checkbook to keep the Swedish Sensation lighting the lamp in Smashville.