NASHVILLE– The Nashville Predators remain confident they will be able to re-sign Filip Forsbergbut they understand that there are no guarantees.
The 27-year-old forward is in the final season of a six-year, $36 million contract ($6 million average annual value) and can become an unrestricted free agent, which prompted speculation that the Predators might trade him before the NHL Trade Deadline on Monday.
“We never seriously got into anything with that,” general manager David Poile said regarding trade talks. “I told that to Filip and I told that to his representative. … If I believed we weren’t going to have a really good chance of signing him, I might have explored that a little bit more. But I’m putting faith that we will be able to come up with a deal that Filip likes, and we will live happily ever after for a lot of years.”
Forsberg set an NHL career high for goals in a season Monday when he scored No. 34 and No. 35 as part of a five-point night in a 6-3 win against the Anaheim Ducks; he scored 33 goals in 82 games in 2015-16. He has scored 63 points through 50 games, one shy of his career high of 64, set in 2015-16 (82 games) and 2017-18 (67 games).
Acquired by the Predators in a trade with the Washington Capitals for Martin Erat and Michael Latta on April 3, 2013, Forsberg made his NHL debut with them 11 days later. He has played 546 NHL games and became Nashville’s career goals leader on March 19, scoring his 211th in a 6-3 win against the Toronto Maple Leafs at Bridgestone Arena. He ranks fifth in assists (235).
Poile said the two sides will continue to work quietly toward a new contract.
“In the short term, we’ve all agreed to place our focuses on the task at hand … solidifying a spot in the [2022 Stanley Cup Playoffs] and then competing for the Stanley Cup,” Poile said. “I continue to believe, and I believe Filip feels the same way, that he will be part of the Predators for a long time.
“We have a good relationship with (Forsberg) and his representative … and we’ll continue to work on that, and hopefully someday we’ll surprise you with an announcement.”
Nashville (37-22-4) is tied for second place with the Minnesota Wild in the Central Division, one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues and 17 behind the first-place Colorado Avalanche.
Poile said he does not believe the Forsberg situation will end in a similar fashion like in 2012 when defenseman ryan suter played out his Predators contract and signed with the Minnesota Wild as a free agent.
“I think it’s different here, in terms of Filip’s desire to be here,” Poile said. “I think with Ryan, the bottom line was, he felt like the grass was greener somewhere else. I do not think that’s the case with Filip.”
Still, Poile can’t be sure Forsberg will be re-signed.
“Filip Forsberg has not agreed to a contract, so there’s no certainties here,” Poile said. “I’m doing my best to say that he wants to be here, and we want him here. Usually, when that happens, you find a way to get [a contract completed]. But there’s no guarantees.”