There hasn’t been a lot of positives recently from the Nashville Predators as a whole, but Filip Forsberg has been continuing his great start.
It remains hard to fathom for me that the Nashville Predators in their over two decades of existence have never had a single-season goal scorer over 34 goals. That’s not a high number, but it seems likely we see that record just set last season to be broken again this season.
To put it into context, 24 different players surpassed 34 goals last season in the NHL. The Predators have always been a very balanced team when it comes to scoring, which has helped them be a perennial playoff team. However, I see 34 goals being broken by Forsberg pretty easily when April gets here.
The current franchise record of 34 goals was set just last season by Viktor Arvidsson, and before that it was a two-way tie between Forsberg and Jason Arnott at 33 goals. This is Forsberg’s record to claim, and I think there’s a good chance he shatters it soon.
Of course this is all assuming Forsberg can stay healthy and play most of the games remaining on the schedule. He’s already missed six games, but still leads the Predators in goals with nine. Also according to Predators PR, Forsberg is second in the league in goals per game at 0.75 among players with at least ten games played:
How many will he finish with?
I’m going out on a limb here and predicting that Forsberg doesn’t miss too many more games. Maybe a couple due to a maintenance day of sorts, but no more long-term injuries. His luck on the injury front is bound to turn around, and that’s going to allow him to push that 40-goal plateau that no Nashville Predators player has ever come close to.
Quite frankly Forsberg would already have the current franchise record if not for missing 18 games last season and another 15 games the season before that. On the goal pace he was on last season, he would’ve finish with around 36 goals.
Forsberg is primed to come closer than ever to 40 goals this season. He’s probably not going to maintain his current pace of 0.75 goals per game. If so, he’s on pace for 57 goals if he plays the rest of the game left on the schedule. That’s just not going to happen.
However, I do think a more realistic outcome is for Forsberg to average higher per game than he ever has in his NHL career. His current career-high in that category is 0.43 set last season. It’s not a reach at all to think he averages around a goal every two games, or 0.50 goals per game for the rest of the season.
If this prediction holds up on my end, I have Forsberg pegged at finishing this season with 41 goals if he doesn’t miss anymore games. Now it’s impossible to predict injuries, but it’s highly likely Forsberg at least misses a couple games from here on out.
He’s on a current four-game goal streak, and he opened up the regular season scoring goals in five of his first six before missing over two weeks. Forsberg has yet to record a multi-goal game yet, but that seems like only a matter of time before that happens.
This leaves me with my prediction that he easily breaks the current record of 34, but comes up just short of 40 and finishes at 39 goals. If I’m proven wrong and he plays every single game from here on out, he’s definitely breaking the 40-goal plateau.
Will anyone else challenge him?
You can’t leave Arvidsson out of the discussion. Arvidsson may very well break his own personal record of 34 goals, but I don’t think he keeps up with the pace of Forsberg if they both play a similar amount of games.
The shuffling of lines makes this a hard prediction to make as well. I maximize Forsberg’s production if he’s playing alongside Matt Duchene as the season started. Same goes with Arvidsson playing with Duchene. Be that as it may, I think the team benefits most with Forsberg and Duchene on the same line.
Speaking of Duchene, he has cooled off considerably since blazing out of the gate with nine points in his first five official games for the Predators. Is it conceivable that Duchene gets back on a hot streak and hangs with Forsberg in scoring goals? It’s possible, but it’s way more likely that Duchene leads the team in points than goals.
Even though Nick Bonino is currently second on the team in goals with eight, there’s no way he’s keeping up that pace. He’s never scored more than 22 goals in a season, and only broke 20 goals in a season once. He might go for 20-plus again this season, but he won’t sniff being one of the team leaders. With that said, Bonino has been so valuable for the team’s third line and bottom six so far after having a disappointing year last season.
It was time to step away from looking over the whole team for a second and focus on how well Forsberg is really playing through his first 12 games. I’m very confident that he’s in store for his most efficient season yet and breaks Arvidsson’s less-than-a-year-old record as long as he end up playing around 75 games.