If the Nashville Predators want to change their storied history of failing to develop top-end forwards, Filip Forsberg would be an outstanding place to start. They fleeced the Washington Capitals for one of the top young players in the league by sending Martin Erat the other way, but have since done little to develop the promising center since.
Has he looked like a rookie out on the ice at times? Certainly. That’s the price you pay in developing young talent at the NHL level. Sometimes they make mistakes, and sometimes they’ll coast you goals. That’s the way it works when it comes to players like Forsberg.
He goes out, plays, sometimes makes mistakes and comes back to the bench. It’s there—with the coach leaning over, talking to him—that Forsberg has the chance to become a better hockey player on a nightly basis. Barry Trotz does a lot of things incredibly well and he’s been in this league for a long time for a reason.
Honestly, does inserting Rich Clune into the lineup over Forsberg make sense in both the long and short term? It’s impossible for a player to figure out how to hack it in the NHL unless he’s playing solid minutes.
Forsberg has already been scratched on Nashville’s current lengthy road trip, and played all of 5:07 against the Los Angeles Kings on Saturday night. While the kid is averaging over 12 minutes a night, an extra few reps could be the difference between David Legwand version 2.0 and an All-Star.
Is Forsberg shaky in his own zone? You bet. Look around the NHL and you’ll see coaches finding creative ways to get their top young players minutes while protecting them a bit against dangerous situations. Trotz and the rest of the Predator’s brass needs to figure out how to get this kid some playing time, or else run the risk of ruining yet another promising forward’s career.
Forsberg absolutely needs to be better in all three zones and has a lot more to offer to the Predators than what he’s shown through his first 15 games as a professional. Is that really all the chance that Nashville is willing to give him?