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NHL Trade Deadline Primer: Filip Forsberg trade would not be easy

NHL Trade Deadline Rumors Filip Forsberg

NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE - JANUARY 01: Filip Forsberg #9 of the Nashville Predators plays against the Chicago Blackhawks at Bridgestone Arena on January 01, 2022 in Nashville, Tennessee. (Photo by Frederick Breedon/Getty Images)

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The 2022 NHL Trade Deadline is Monday, March 21 at 3 p.m. ET. As we get closer to the deadline we will take a look at some individual players who could be on the move. We continue today with Nashville Predators forward Filip Forsberg.

There was an interesting name added to the NHL’s trade deadline rumor mill this past week when reports surfaced that the Nashville Predators could potentially be shopping forward Filip Forsberg.

This is significant because Forsberg is one of the Predators’ best players and having an outstanding season, and also because the Predators are right in the thick of the Western Conference playoff race and look to have a strong shot at a playoff spot. Selling one of their best players would not seem to be ideal given those circumstances.

The problem is that Forsberg is a pending unrestricted free agent after this season and Nashville would probably prefer not to lose him for nothing after the season if they can not reach an agreement on a new contract. A new deal would almost certainly cost between $7-9 million per year against the cap (and the Predators certainly have the salary cap space to afford that) over a long-term contract. Forsberg is 27 and scoring on a 50-goal pace (27 goals in 40 games) this season and should still have several high level years ahead of him.

But would they actually consider trading him this season if they can not get him signed?

What the return might look like

This is tricky because there really is not much precedence for a team in a playoff spot trading a player this good before the deadline, even if they are pending unrestricted free agents. Remember a couple of years ago when Columbus was a fringe playoff team and faced a similar situation with Artemi Panarin and Sergei Bobrovsky? Not only did they keep both players (before losing them in free agency) but they actually added pending free agents at the trade deadline.

Typically if you have a chance to make the playoffs you keep these players and deal with the free agent situation in the offseason.

If the Predators were out of it and clear sellers, this would be easy: A first-round pick, top prospect, and maybe a throw-in NHL player to the highest bidder.

But again, Nashville is a potential playoff team. Would it want to deal him to another Western Conference contender? One that they might have to play in the playoffs, or one that could potentially keep them from the playoffs? And given the Predators’ current spot in the standings it is probably going to want somebody that can help right now, as well as a player that is still under contract and under team control beyond this season. Another playoff team is not going to be quick to trade that type of player.

The most logical landing spots

• New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, Nashville Predators (staying right where he is)

Eastern Conference contenders would seem to be the logical landing spot here, and the Rangers really jump out as a possibility.

They are swimming in salary cap space, have a great spot in the standings, and they clearly need more scoring depth. You want to make a splash that you are going for it and that you think you can win this season? There it is.

The Bruins are also in the market for more depth scoring, but center is probably their main focus. It should be, anyway.

Still, the most logical landing spot? Right where he is in Nashville. The Predators can still sign him, he is still their most impactful forward, and they still have a shot to make the playoffs this season. A very good shot. Trading him and getting something back in return that can help that goal this season would be tricky.

Nashville has more than $24 million in salary cap space to work with this offseason and 16 players under contract with no other major players needing raises. If Forsberg wants to stay, they can pay him.

Wild Card team: Pittsburgh Penguins

This would be difficult with the salary cap, but the Penguins could use an upgrade to their second line wingers around Evgeni Malkin (Kasperi Kapanen is not getting the job done right now) and they should still be all in on trying to make another Stanley Cup run with Sidney Crosby, Malkin, and Kris Letang still on the roster and playing at a high level. If Jim Rutherford was still running this team you know it would be on the table. Ron Hextall seems to be a little more reserved in that regard as a general manager.

Spot I want to see just for fun: Washington Capitals

This would be hilarious just to see Forsberg go back to the team where his career started. The Capitals initially drafted Forsberg in the first round of the 2012 NHL draft, traded him for Martin Erat one year later, and then got next to nothing from Erat during his brief time in Washington. Forsberg, meanwhile, has gone on to become a top line player. It was not a great trade for the Capitals. Though, to be fair, they did eventually win the Stanley Cup so, probably not worth getting too mad about.

NHL Trade Deadline prediction

As much fun as it would be to think that a player like Forsberg could be on the move at the trade deadline, it just does not really seem to make much sense unless Nashville really starts to lose a bunch of games over the next couple of weeks and falls out of a playoff spot. He stays in Nashville.