It’s time for our annual countdown of the best 25 Nashville Predators players under 25 years old.
This is not only a tradition here at OTF, but is also something that you might see at many other SBNation NHL blogs. The premise is simple: rank the 25 best players who have not yet reached their 25th birthday (as of August 1st, 2017).
At #2, Arvi!
As our list comes to a close, Viktor Arvidsson comes in at number two as one-third of the Preds’ top line - sure to terrify opponents for years to come. His 30 goal performance last year was quite something and a new seven-year contract will hopefully mean similar performances to come. Regardless, there are still a few question marks surrounding his game (i.e. any concern about the lineup being too top-heavy).
First, though, let’s dive into how he got here. A more unknown pick in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft, Arvidsson came to North America immediately after being selected. In his draft year performance, he posted 16 goals and 40 points for Skelleftea AIK of Sweden’s top league. In 2014-15, Arvidsson went pointless in six games for Nashville, but impressed in Milwaukee posting 22 goals and 55 points in 70 AHL games. In 2015-16, Arvidsson graduated to more regular time at the NHL level. He appeared in 56 games for the Preds and scored eight goals and 16 points. In 17 games for the Admirals that year, he scored eight goals and 18 points.
This past season, of course, was Arvidsson’s breakout campaign featuring 31 goals and 61 points in 80 games on a staggering 246 shots. Much has been written about Arvidsson’s breakout campaign. Our report card of his season details how much of an offensive force he was: a top-25 goal scorer and shot producer, a league-leading short-handed goal scorer, and, most importantly, a catalyst of shot opportunities and possession for those around him. He is, by any means, an elite first-line winger.
Arvidsson’s “With or Without You” Chart above shows his tendency to not only drive possession, but his ability to carry teammates when needed. So, what does this mean moving forward?
Something that has been highlighted recently is Nashville’s top-heavy lineup. The Preds have an elite first line, but, after that, depth is a strong concern. While I don’t expect the JOFA line to be split up anytime soon, if secondary production becomes an issue, Arvidsson should be able to slot in down the lineup and improve play. His shot generation is unmatched and, as long as it persists, it should maintain an elite scoring level. Accordingly, Arvidsson finished the season with a 55.0% Corsi For and a fairly even PDO. He benefits well from many offensive zone starts, and, of course, the dominance of the JOFA line at times on the ice.
Arvidsson plays a pretty simple game: quick feet, the goal to win every puck battle, and shoot from almost anywhere. And hey, it’s pretty successful.
Arvidsson has seven more years of top-line play expected of him. Luckily, there’s not much to project.
Arvidsson signed a seven-year deal this summer that will pay him $4.25 million each year with a matching cap hit for the Preds. Upon expiry, he will be an unrestricted free agent at the age of 31.