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Antti Pihlstrom, the 2008-9 Forechecker's Forecast

One of the interesting storylines to follow during training camp later this month will be the progress of Antti Pihlstrom, the Finnish agitator who has an outside shot at landing a roster spot with the Predators. After leading the AHL's Milwaukee Admirals in goal scoring (with 27 in 78 games), is Pihlstrom ready for the big stage in Music City?

Pihlstrom is likely to make his biggest impact as a 3rd- or 4th-line banger, with enough scoring touch to provide an occasional boost to the Nashville attack. At 23 years old, we've probably got a decent picture of how he'll fare at the NHL level. Similar to the preview for Patric Hornqvist, let's use Gabriel Desjardin's League Equivalencies work to make a basic projection. In this case, we have a guy who posted 27 goals and 18 assists in 78 games for Milwaukee, a Points Per Game rate of 0.58. Desjardin's Equivalency value for a 23 year-old transitioning from the AHL to the NHL is 0.41, so multiplying it by Pihlstrom's 0.58 PPG gives us a benchmark of 0.24 PPG for the upcoming season. In other words, we don't appear to have an offensive star in the making here, but that doesn't mean he can't be a serviceable player.

Now, this value assumes that Pihlstrom's role in Nashville is going to be similar to that which he enjoyed in Milwaukee, and I seriously doubt that will be the case. Based on what's been said in the press so far (an admittedly shaky proposition), he'd have to beat out Ryan Jones, Patric Hornqvist, and any potential veteran acquisition to earn a spot on one of the top two lines. Then when you consider the fact that Pihlstrom has one of the few two-way contracts among forwards, I would guess that Antti will spend most of his time down in the AHL, called up occasionally for fill-in duty as injuries crop up, similar to what Rich Peverley did last season.

On the positive side, there may be reason to believe that the Equivalency figure might trend a bit higher, given the likely improvement in AHL play since that study was done, but I suspect the adjustment for that would be pretty minor.

So, for the official Forechecker's Forecast...

Forechecker's Forecast, 2008-9 NHL Regular Season
Player GP G A Pts Shots Sht %
Antti Pihlstrom 20 2 4 6 25 8