NHL Salaries

Capitals and Filip Forsberg could be a good match

The signing of Filip Forsberg by the Washington Capitals is unlikely, somewhat outlandish, but could be a valid consideration. It’s not as far-fetched a notion as it sounds, simply because it hasn’t really been discussed. The forward has a history with the franchise and the head coach, and with Nicklas Backstrom still undecided about his future, the potential matchup should at least be assessed.

What really matters is the money, as well as Peter Laviolette’s future with the team. If Washington wants to make a splash in free agency, they need to be in attack position, and with Tom Wilson’s injury rendering him unavailable until around December, they need an impact player, not a player. of role.

Should the Capitals sue Forsberg?

There are two main factors for Forsberg joining the Capitals in free agency this summer. First, Backstrom controls the team cap situation. Second, management’s confidence in Laviolette moving forward.

Related: Filip Forsberg Trade Revisited

Washington drafted Forsberg 11th overall in the 2012 NHL Draft. Less than a year later, he was traded to the Nashville Predators in exchange for Martin Erat and Michael Latta. These two skaters played a combined 175 games for the Capitals. It wasn’t necessarily a bad trade because, at the time, Erat was a solid player and Washington hoped he would contribute in the playoffs. He had zero points in four playoff games for the Capitals.

Of course, in hindsight, that looks like a bad trade considering what Forsberg ultimately became in Nashville.

Connection to Laviolette

Laviolette coached the Predators from 2014 to 2020. He won a total of 248 games for the franchise and posted a .525 winning percentage. He also reached the playoffs five of six seasons, including a trip to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2017.

Forsberg, 27, played his first full season for Nashville in 2014-15. The forward also played in 18 NHL games between the previous two seasons. He scored 469 points in 556 total games, mostly with Laviolette at the helm.

Filip Forsberg, Nashville Predators (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

He was also a playoff catalyst for the franchise, especially on their run to the Finals. Forsberg became a name in the NHL under Laviolette, however, it should be noted that the forward is coming off his best season, setting career highs in points (84), goals (42) and assists (42), without Laviolette as his trainer.

Since hitting career highs in a contract year, he is expected to receive a big raise this summer. One of the only ways Washington can afford it hinges on Backstrom’s decision about his future.

Backstrom’s Riddle

The longtime Washington center just underwent further surgery on his left hip, and there’s no timeline yet for his return. One of the problems the Capitals suffer from is age – Backstrom is 34 years old.

Almost all Washington fans don’t want to understand the idea of ​​Backstrom leaving the team, given what he’s done for the franchise. He is undeniably one of the best to have skated in a Capitals jersey. However, if he can’t play or if he doesn’t feel comfortable, then he and the front office have very difficult decisions to make. Presumably, retirement is more of a reality than a job or a waiver.

Backstrom holds the team’s second-highest annual salary at $9.2 million, and his contract runs through 2024-25. Forsberg earned $6 million in 2021-22. Forsberg will most likely earn around what Backstrom is earning right now with a new contract.

Washington Capitals Nicklas Backstrom
Nicklas Backstrom, Washington Capitals (Jess Starr/The Hockey Writers)

When the price is comparable, the statistics should be measured against each other. Backstrom has been more productive every season than his younger counterpart since the latter entered the league. The only real argument in favor of Forsberg is that Backstrom had better offensive weapons to share the puck with.

One thing to note is that, despite being older and increasingly injury-prone, Backstrom has actually played 25 more games than Forsberg over the past eight seasons. Also in that span, he averaged 0.92 points per game, while Forsberg is at 0.86. Availability should also be part of the assessment.

To Forsberg or not to Forsberg

Probably not, but it deserves deep consideration. Backstrom’s future is up in the air, but he’s always outplayed Forsberg. Yet it’s also about pushing the franchise forward. Forsberg has the potential to be better with better weapons around him. At 27, he could be part of Washington’s offensive core, possibly alongside Wilson and Anthony Mantha, beyond the Backstrom and Alex Ovechkin era.

The other uncertainty is the future of Laviolette. If Forsberg is signed because of his connection with his former coach and the Capitals underperform again, especially in the playoffs, that connection may end up being a moot point. Laviolette’s contract expires after this upcoming season and there is no guarantee that he will be back.

Related: 3 Reasons Capitals Shouldn’t Trade For The Ducks’ John Gibson

General manager Brian MacLellan should give Forsberg serious thought, but he would be wise not to rush to sign the striker, especially if a bidding war breaks out. A lot has to happen anyway for him to return to the team that drafted him and the coach that led him to a Stanley Cup final.