A Future Preds Legend Hits the Ice Today
If he stays in Nashville long enough, Shea Weber will be the first Predator to see his Number 6 hang from the rafters.
The next one will be Number 9.
That's what will be affixed to the Pred sweater just below the nameplate 'Forsberg.'
No, Filip Forsberg is no relation to the legendary Number 21 for the Colorado Avalanche and Sweden's national team. Given its meaning in Swedish, where traditional surnames often originate near homestead landmarks -- fors is a small waterfall; berg is a mountain -- it's not all that unusual a moniker in his home country. What is unusual is the fact he's hitting NHL ice at the tender age of 18, and that he's doing so as the result of a trade that sent one of the most prolific scorers in Nashville's short history, Martin Erat, to the Washington Capitals, the team that made young Forsberg the 11th overall pick in last year's draft.
Caps fans were in turmoil when the trade was announced. Forsberg seemed like a natural to complete a line with Alexander Ovechkin and Nicklas Bäckström sooner rather than later, a strike force that had the makings of breathtaking potential. Erat, though, is Mr Right Now for a Washington team fighting to make the playoffs. The 31-year-old veteran is a smooth two-way skater who will easily slide into the Capitals' top line and be productive on both ends of the ice.
Still, the only way this trade looks good is if Erat is the missing piece that delivers the Cup to the Caps.
Forsberg is the real deal, and -- barring injury, of course -- will be the real deal for a long, long time.
He's been on hockey radar screens since his earliest days in Östervåla, since his international debut for the Tre Kronor (that's Swedish for three crowns the national symbol), and since his three-plus seasons with Leksand, Swedish hockey's version of the Green Bay Packers; with his help, they have just returned to the Elitserien, which is that country's top-tier league.
Back in the day, the Philadelphia Flyers decided to go for gold immediately, taking advantage of a young and gifted Canadian's refusal to play for a francophonic team like the Québec Nordiques. They hurriedly bundled a package of players to trade for him, and Eric Lindros became a Flyer.
One of the prospects Philadelphia traded was Peter Forsberg.
The Nordiques ultimately moved to Denver and won two Stanley Cups. Lindros and the Flyers never did.
Now, a new Forsberg has begun his NHL career in a similar situation. He's dressing for Nashville against the Detroit Red Wings tonight. Will history repeat itself?
From the Pred's perspective, prospects are good.