For months and months now we’ve been obsessing over whether or not Filip Forsberg will return to the Nashville Predators, and less than two weeks away from free agency we still don’t know one way or the other.
Time is literally running out on General Manager David Poile to avoid arguably the biggest gaffe of his front office career, and definitely his biggest while in charge for the Nashville Predators organization.
There have even been some conflicting reports from two NHL insiders regarding how close the Predators and Forsberg are to a deal getting done. Elliotte Friedman seemed to suggest the two sides are very close last week:
Friedman on TJMS talking Filip Forsberg: “It sounds like there is some momentum there between Nashville and Forsberg, I have teams telling me that’s going to get done on a 8-yr number in the 8’s, and we’ll see if they turn out to be right”.
— NHL Watcher (@NHL_Watcher) June 30, 2022
Friedman has since elaborated even more on his 32 Thoughts Podcast saying that the two sides are close to a “8-year, $8.5M” deal. That is a totally fair deal for the Predators, so why does Poile keep dragging this out?
Almost a week later, and still nothing has materialized. Really makes you wonder what the hold up is, and a no-move clause being desired by Forsberg’s camp is a likely obstacle.
For what it’s worth, Forsberg has every right to push for the absolute best deal he can get because he earned it. Furhtermore, his asking price which has been speculated to be in the low $8M range is more than fair and team-friendly.
Then Darren Dreger of TSN Hockey reported something very different on the contract negotiations, one that leads me to believe the sides still have a lot of work to do before July 13:
Not a lot of progress in ongoing discussions between Forsberg and the Preds. The gap is believed to be less than $1 mil per year, but on an 8 year term, it’s easy to see why this will come down to the wire.
— Darren Dreger (@DarrenDreger) June 30, 2022
Nashville Predators can’t blow this if they want to be competitive next year
The Predators threw us a bit of a surprise yesterday by trading for veteran defenseman Ryan McDonagh for basically nothing in return to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
A salary cap dump for Tampa, and an expensive four-year contract to take on for the Predators. It’s no doubt a gamble, but also could bring back some instant rewards for next season. That’s only if the front office has some more moves up its sleeve, including re-signing Forsberg.
This could very well turn out to be an effective trade for the Predators in the short-term if they also retain Forsberg, That would keep their best forward line intact for 2022-23, while also adding McDonagh to stabilize the defensive core.
What does a trade like this tell Forsberg as he probably continues to weigh his options as free agency looms? A part of me thinks it’s an encouraging sign for him because it’s showing the organization is serious about competing for a Stanley Cup now, and another side of me thinks it might rub Forsberg the wrong way due to the front office not negotiating in good faith.
Mark Scheig of The Hockey Writers seems to think this is a clear sign to Forsberg that the team is all in on 2022-23, and that should be inticing for Forsberg to sign with Nashville:
Can’t help but think part of the McDonagh trade for Nashville is a sign to Filip Forsberg. We’re serious about winning. We’ll see how that plays out now.
— Mark Scheig (@markscheig) July 3, 2022
I just don’t see how the Nashville Predators improve on last year’s unexpected postseason appeareance without Forsberg on the team. Yes, the team could still land another high-end free agent to make them a quality team, but that’s so much more unlikely than just doing the simple thing of re-signing your all-time leading goal scorer for a fair market price.
Without Forsberg on the Predators next year, I really worry about this team’s chemistry taking a huge hit. Not a good thing for a team that’s gotten progressively younger, and showed a lot of promise last season to snag a wildcard spot.
This really has become the final straw to having in confidence in Poile moving forward. Even if the deal gets done at the final hour before free agency, this has been the debacle of all debacles for the Nashville Predators front office.