After not trading Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators must show him the money | Estes

Gentry Estes
Nashville Tennessean
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I’m not saying I’d have done it. I’m pretty sure, in fact, that I wouldn’t have.

But just for posterity’s sake, the Nashville Predators could have traded Filip Forsberg. Teams were calling. Goodness knows, they’d have offered a king’s ransom of picks or players or prospects.

The Predators didn’t do it, though. To hear general manager David Poile tell it, they weren’t close. Poile said he never seriously considered any offer for his star forward.

“The intention was never to trade Filip,” said Poile after Monday’s NHL trade deadline had passed. “The intention was to get him signed. I wish we had him signed today, but we don't.”

So now, there's still a king’s ransom in the works. But that'll be Forsberg's. He can expect his fortune soon enough, and it’s probably going to be in Nashville.

Because Poile no longer has a choice.

Since he didn’t trade Forsberg, he must re-sign him. Period.

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Losing Forsberg for zilch in free agency – after ignoring such alluring trade offers – would be an unacceptable failure. Poile has to know that. So, too, will Forsberg’s representation. Any leverage the Predators might have had in negotiations expired at Monday’s deadline.

Keeping Forsberg was always going to be expensive. Now it could get downright silly.

Why shouldn't Forsberg demand more money? Or a no-trade clause? Or maybe a seventh or eighth year on the end of that contract? Or all of it and more? 

“I would love to have this done three or four months ago,” Poile said, “but it just didn't happen. We're working on it. I want to believe it's going to happen. Anything can happen, but we're good with where we are.”

Nashville Predators  general manager David Poile takes questions from the media after a press conference announcing goalie Pekka Rinne’s retirement at Bridgestone Arena Tuesday, July 13, 2021 in Nashville, Tenn.

Feels like Poile is swimming upstream here, and in fairness, I’m not sure how much leverage he has had anyway. Forsberg is playing too well for that. He has 35 goals after scoring twice in Monday's win over the Anaheim Ducks. He is in the midst of a career season. It’ll be the best goal-scoring season in franchise history if teammate Matt Duchene (34 goals) doesn’t beat him out for it.

Forsberg and Duchene have been doing this on an overachieving team that appears bound for the playoffs – and more capable of doing something once it gets there.

Poile wouldn’t have been able to trade a player like Forsberg at this moment and be able to look the rest of his players in the eyes.

“If I believed that we weren't going to have a really good chance at signing him,” Poile said, “I might have explored (a trade) a little bit more. … I continue to believe – and I believe Filip feels the same way – that he will be part of the Predators for a long time.”

Guess it's time to bring up what the old-school Predators fans are probably thinking. Yes, the situation does conjure up the painful memory of Ryan Suter’s 2012 snub, even as Poile insists this circumstance is different.

Poile on Monday exuded faith in Forsberg and their discussions to this point. Poile was adamant that he expects negotiations to eventually lead to an extension. Because that’s what Poile wants. And that’s what he said Forsberg wants, too.

If the deal happens, the Predators are probably going to take a beating and have to give up concessions they won't want to give up. The good news is they have the salary cap space to withstand a big hit.

Perhaps that's one reason they were only small-time buyers at the trade deadline.

They didn’t splurge. But they did add players, rather than subtract. Which made sense for a team that – despite some hiccups in recent weeks – has steadied itself enough to again be comfortably in playoff position. As of Tuesday, the Predators had inched one point ahead of the St. Louis Blues and back into the top three of the Central Division.

The Predators have gone from a franchise that had started nibbling at a seemingly inevitable rebuild to one that might not require a roster overhaul after all.

Whether that would be the best approach long-term to try to win a Stanley Cup doesn’t matter. The Predators are comfortable with the way things are and have been for a while.

They like boasting about their seven-year playoff streak. They like having full seats at Bridgestone Arena. And they really like selling playoff tickets as an avenue toward boosting season ticket sales for the following season – playoff seats get discounted for those who opt to renew. This is a highly functioning operation that is well-positioned to recycle and retool, but not necessarily to rebuild.

Intentions aside, that sort of thing ends up being decided on the ice. The Predators are winning. In the face of any criticism, this season’s record backs up the job that Poile and coach John Hynes and the players are doing.

That obviously includes Forsberg, too. He’s a major part of the team’s success and a prominent reason for bright hopes this postseason and beyond.

In other words, he's an obvious keeper.

The Predators have earned to right this season to re-sign Forsberg, and he has earned the right to stay.

Seems so simple. What’s the hold-up? Why do the negotiations continue to be so difficult?

“We started apart and are still apart,” said Poile.

Nonetheless, “We're not that far off that we can't make a deal,” said Poile.

The Predators sure hope he's right.

Reach Gentry Estes at and on Twitter @Gentry_Estes. 

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