Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg has placed himself amongst the league’s top young talents, and will be looking to get paid like one.
In Part I of the ‘Forsberg Cashing In’ story we touched on Filip Forsberg and his 30-goal output in this, his contract season. Reaching the mark makes him the 10th player to net 30 so far this year, putting him in elite company alongside names like Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, and Patrick Kane.
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The interesting part of this factoid is that Forsberg, at 21 years old, is 3 years younger than anyone else on the list. Representing at 24 years of age are Tyler Seguin and Vladimir Tarasenko, both of whom are making return visits to the 30-goal scorer list, and the latter of which inked a deal this past offseason that may have seriously impacted the landscape for signing young talents- Forsberg included.
The St. Louis Blues signed the gifted Tarasenko to an 8-year, $60 million extension, making the forward the franchise’s highest paid player in terms of average annual value with a $7.5 million cap hit per year. He earned his position as the 7th highest paid winger in the league fresh off the heels of a fiery se
ason which saw him amassing 37 goals and 73 points in 77 games, rising to superstar status.
With nine games still in pocket, Forsberg has tallied 30 goals and 54 points on the season- not likely to match Tarasenko’s contract year totals, but absolutely worthy of starting a conversation about ballparking comparative value.
Let’s take a look at some young forwards who inked themselves into money this past offseason so that it may help us wrap our heads around ideas of what it may take to keep Forsberg in Smashville:
His numbers are mentioned above, but what makes the Tarasenko deal so unprecedented- and important for the Forsberg deal- is the fact that monster contracts just haven’t traditionally been scripted for an NHLer’s second contract, as they were in his case.
Old ways have the big bucks and imposing years reserved for players staring down unrestricted free agency and an open market, with young guys having to prove themselves in a shorter, bridging contract (see Evgeny Kuznetsov). But the Blues may have demonstrated that the tides are changing.
The 23-year-old center represents an example of a more traditional route the Forsberg negotiations could conceivably take. Following a modest 11 goal, 37 point season through 80 games, the Washington Capitols saw enough potential in the young forward to offer him a ‘prove it’ contract, worth $6 million over 2 years.
The obvious flaw in this comparison is the fact the Forsberg has already ‘proven it’- but the idea of offering a bridge contract to a still-developing talent is worth mentioning. Forsberg is younger now than Kuznetsov was when offered the deal, and after growing into his NHL game Kuznetsov currently sits with a 20 goal, 53 assist season- good for 6th in the league in total points.
Kuznetsov’s value has swelled over his $3 million cap hit- as the leading scorer on the league’s best team he is only the 6th highest paid forward on the Capitol roster. He will be due for his big payday soon enough, whereas we should expect Forsberg to be sitting atop team salary charts next season if he’s to stick around.
A prime example of the young player riding the new wave, the 23-year-old forward signed a 6 year, $36 million deal with the Columbus Blue Jackets this past offseason, his $6 mil/year making him the top paid player on the team.
This instance has oft been cited as both a case of Columbus overpaying and the result of a cap-strapped Chicago needing to offload some salary in a hurry. Whatever the case, Saad’s 2014-15 output of 23 goals and 52 total points earned him a pretty piece of paper.
Forsberg has already improved upon Saad’s full 82-game numbers with contests to spare, so it’ll be interesting to see just how much $6 mil/year is worth in Nashville money vs. the prospect of Columbus having overpaid for the former Blackhawk.
A little bit older at 26 years of age, the Red Wings signed the right winger to a 4 year, $19 million deal- earning him $4.75 mil/year after racking up a 27 goal, 27 assist season.
The scoring numbers are a little bit closer to Forsberg’s, as Nyquist’s deal represents something of a baseline for a similar talent- with the price only serving to be marked up for the advantage of age, potential growth, and the sinking of a few more pucks.
Forsberg is certainly primed to become the Predator’s highest paid forward if he is to stay in Nashville, topping James Neal’s $5 mil/year. Using the current market at a gauge, we could see his commanding somewhere right around, and very possibly above Saad’s $6 mil/year.
Arguments could be made concerning these comparisons- how the Saad contract may be inflated, how Forsberg isn’t on Tarasenko’s level- but one inarguable fact is Forsberg’s importance to the Nashville Predators roster. His time on ice/game (19:01) and short-handed time on ice team percentage (34.4%) are reaches above the other players listed here.
The Predators depend on Forsberg- they know it, he knows it, his agent knows it. Soon his bank account will be well aware of it too.
All of this being said, it’s still worth crossing our fingers for an economic deal like Dallas has in Tyler Seguin and Jamie Benn- the terrorizing superstar duo that rings up at $5.75 million and $5.25 million a year, respectively. Having that talent at that price has allowed their franchise the funds to bring in supporting pieces that make us salary-cap addled fans salivate. And as mentioned here, Nashville will soon have more mouths to feed than just the young Forsberg.