It’s almost a textbook example of the phrase “we can’t have nice things.” Just as the Nashville Predators’ 6-4 win over the then-first place Florida Panthers helped us exhale a bit after a rough February, and just as we were getting ready to enjoy Pekka Rinne’s jersey retirement and the Stadium Series festivities, a beat reporter’s tweet hit us like a ton of bricks.
Hearing the #Preds are actively shopping superstar Filip Forsberg.— Andy Strickland (@andystrickland) February 24, 2022
Even with unrestricted free agency looming, the idea that Filip Forsberg might be traded at the deadline is a surprising one given the context of the current season. The Predators are firmly in the playoff hunt, and Forsberg has been a key reason why. He’s on pace for the best individual season of his career stat-wise and, barring an injury or unprecedented cold streak, will likely become both the Preds’ all-time leading goal scorer and the single-season goal king.
Which is why it’s not unfair to question how much truth there is to Andy Strickland’s tweet, and in what context. This, like any rumor, should be taken with the standard grain of salt. Strickland is a well-respected figure in hockey, but not exactly known as an “insider” (at least not in the same vein as the likes of Pierre LeBrun or Elliotte Friedman). There have also been a few instances of Strickland outright being wrong.
Then there’s the question of what “actively shopping” means. There is a vast difference between David Poile proactively trying to trade Forsberg for future assets and simply doing his due diligence as a GM by seeing what teams would hypothetically be willing to offer for a pending free agent.
Let’s say it’s the latter of those options, in which case, this Forsberg news probably isn’t out of the norm. It’s Poile’s job as general manager to simply know all of his options ahead of the trade deadline. It’s possible Poile checks the market for Forsberg and goes “you know, none of these offers really blow me away. I’ll probably get more value from Forsberg from one last playoff run than I would in a trade for future assets,” and that’s the end of it. Or some team comes out of nowhere with an offer that both helps the Preds in the short term and adds more stability and certainty long-term.
This is the option that seems to be most likely at the moment (again, if the initial reports about Poile “shopping” Forsberg are true). As we learned from the past couple of deadlines, Poile isn’t someone who likes to sell assets mid-season, especially when his team has momentum on the ice. The Preds previously passed on chances to trade guys like Nick Bonino, Craig Smith, Mikael Granlund, Mattias Ekholm, and others at past deadlines when the Preds were still in playoff contention, so trading Forsberg now — during THIS season, especially — seems out of character.
If Poile is indeed actively trying to get rid of Forsberg before the deadline, the only plausible reasons would be if he has little to no confidence in re-signing Forsberg this summer, or if Forsberg’s camp has already told the Preds they plan to at least test the market. Given a few follow-up tweets — including one stating Forsberg’s agents had been planning to meet with Poile in the coming weeks, neither seem to be the case.
I've been told Filip Forsberg has not told the #Preds that he doesn't want to remain a Predator.— Robby Stanley (@RStanleyNHL) February 24, 2022
That doesn't mean that he's going to sign here. And that doesn't mean he's going not going to be traded. I've just been told that he has not told them that he for sure wants out.
This will probably come as quite the surprise to Forsberg and his reps as the Preds have been expected to get contract talks going with them in the near future. https://t.co/ZnmsRGTi6E— David Pagnotta (@TheFourthPeriod) February 24, 2022
Regardless, the likelihood of any trade involving Forsberg seems low until we get closer to the March 21st trade deadline. That gives the Preds nearly an entire month to see where they stand in the playoff hunt and what Forsberg’s future plans are.
Until then, we’ll focus on cheering #9 on as he continues to chase Predators history.