Filip Forsberg Getting Closer to a Return for the Nashville Predators?

Jan 14, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) waits for a face off during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 14, 2023; Nashville, Tennessee, USA; Nashville Predators left wing Filip Forsberg (9) waits for a face off during the third period against the Buffalo Sabres at Bridgestone Arena. Mandatory Credit: Christopher Hanewinckel-USA TODAY Sports /

The injury status of Nashville Predators star forward Filip Forsberg has been hazy to say the least, and with the postseason hopes barely hanging on by a thread, the question remains as to whether they should bring him back at all in 2022-23.

Forsberg took a really scary hit from Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Rasmus Ristolainen on February 11, which caused Forsberg to lose his skates from under him and hit the ice hard on the fall:

Forsberg had to be helped off the ice by teammates and clearly looked dazed. A moment that makes you pause and hope it’s not as serious as it looks.

As you would expect, the timetable for Forsberg’s return to the ice has been completely unknown. He has been wearing a non-contact jersey in practices recently, and Head Coach John Hynes has called his return “imminent”.

Is Bringing Back Forsberg Worth the Risk for the Nashville Predators?

If you’re the Nashville Predators you have to be very cautious in how you approach bringing Forsberg back at any point over the remainder of this season. The last thing anyone wants is pushing the envelope and him taking another hard hit against the boards, which is extremely likely.

Forsberg’s long-term health is obviously first and foremost. Even after that, purely from a hockey standpoint, you have to consider where the Predators are at. Could a 100 percent healthy Forsberg be a huge spark to win some difficult games down the stretch and squeak out a ninth consecutive playoff berth? It could, but it’s likely Forsberg will have some rust to shake off if and when he does return to action.

The Nashville Predators sit in an interesting spot in the standings being just six points out of the final wildcard spot with games in hand over everyone they’re chasing. If Forsberg were to be added back to the mix and provide an offensive spark this team needs right now, then it could be a huge x-factor to making the playoffs even after selling off so many key players at the trade deadline.

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I would just proceed with caution on bringing Forsberg back at all, and it appears the team has definitely taken the cautious approach so far as Forsberg has now missed nearly a month of action. The original prognosis was four to six weeks.

Where Will Forsberg Fit Back into the Starting Lineup? Who Comes Out?

When looking over the starting lineup that the Nashville Predators have been rolling with, who would come out if Forsberg does get back in? After all, the young kids have been playing with a buzz to their game and you don’t want to curb any growth and development this young core is getting on the NHL level.

My first choice would be the newly-acquired Rasmus Asplund to come out for Forsberg. You can also argue taking out Mark Jankowski, although I’ve really liked what he has brought as a depth player in the bottom six. He has built some chemistry down there that I’m not crazy about breaking up.

We’ll have to see if the Predators are content with leaving Luke Evangelista in the NHL lineup or if they just wanted to give him a few games to get his feet wet until Forsberg is ready. I’d prefer to keep Evangelista in considering how solid he has looked in his first four NHL games, including a two-goal game against Vancouver on Monday.

The Predators have a few options on how to approach bringing Forsberg back into the lineup, including what line he would be on now that Mikael Granlund, Tanner Jeannot and Nino Niederreiter have been traded, plus Ryan Johansen being out for the season with a lower body injury.

Juuso Parssinen has also missed significant time since the Forsberg injury. Parssinen hasn’t played since February 23. Forsberg and Parssinen returning together might give the Predators enough of a jolt to hang around in the playoff race until the final week. He has been considered “day to day” for over a week now so you have to think he’s close to returning, as well as Forsberg.

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I’m liking the idea of plugging Forsberg in on the top line with Tommy Novak at center and Matt Duchene on the other wing.

Again, the organization needs to be 100 percent clear that Forsberg is ready. He remains on injured reserve as the next game on the schedule is against the Arizona Coyotes on Thursday. Perhaps will get another solid update in the morning skate leading up to the game.