Filip Forsberg is just happy to be playing hockey for a living.
“I have a pretty good life playing over here. Everything is great,” the 19-year old said with a brimming smile.
Forsberg had a strong start to the season when he scored in Nashville’s home opener on October 8th. It was Forsberg’s first game of the season after missing the first two games for Nashville, both losses, when he suffered a lower-body injury in the preseason.
In nine games played so far, Forsberg has a goal and three assists while averaging 13:11 of ice time per game. Despite the decent offensive production, Forsberg has also seen his fair share of early adversity. He was a healthy scratch on Oct. 22, sitting out of a 2-0 loss to the Minnesota Wild.
“I have to work hard,” the 2012 first-round draft pick explained. “I think I can play better than I have been. I need to get more involved in the game. It is basic stuff that I am trying to do all the time but I can do better like being strong on the boards and getting the puck out of the zone.”
The Swedish native has received advice from several of his teammates.
“A lot of guys have been in the game for a long while,” Forsberg said. “A lot of guys have been talking and trying to help me. They know the game a lot better than me. I really appreciate it.”
Eric Nystrom has played off and on with Forsberg this season. The veteran forward has offered advice to the rookie, but believes it is Forsberg who should be giving out the advice.
“I wish he could offer me some advice on how to stickhandle like that,” Nystrom said, before adding, “He is a very high-skilled player. He has good hands and vision. It is fun playing with a guy like that. He is so young that he is only going to get better. It’s incredible what his upside could be.
“There are certain things when you are a skilled player that you can get away with in other leagues. At this level, obviously you don’t want to hide a guy’s skill but in some situations you need to be a little harder on the puck. You see a lot of young guys come in and sometimes they struggle with when to make or not make a play that is maybe not there and that is a little risky. He’s been real receptive. He wants to listen.”
Forsberg has been equally impressed with Nystrom.
“He is a hard worker and always gets the job done. That’s something that I need to improve, to do it every day with consistency. That’s something he brings to the table. He is a great teammate and has been really great at taking care of me so far,” Forsberg said.
Averaging 2:36 per game on the power play, only David Legwand and Patric Hornqvist have been on the ice more than Forsberg with the man advantage among Nashville forwards.
Forsberg doesn’t take for granted his ice time with the man advantage.
“It is an honor to play on the power play. You have to produce to stay on the power play. It is a responsibility to the team to score on the power play,” he said.
Forsberg briefly began his NHL career last spring. The standout forward picked up an assist during the lockout shortened season when he played five games for the Predators after being traded from the Washington Capitals for veteran forward Martin Erat at the trade deadline. Legwand has mainly been a linemate of Forsberg ever since he was acquired last April.
“He has great puck skills in close places,” Legwand said. “He makes great plays. He has been fine on both sides of the puck. He is still young and learning the game. He’s doing the right things.”
Despite the positive reviews from his veteran teammates, and often linemates, Forsberg has seen time as a top-six forward for Nashville, but also has played on the fourth line with Paul Gaustad and Matt Hendricks. As a result, finding chemistry with linemates hasn’t been easy.
Forsberg, however, remains unphased. Happy and ready to work hard, he has a remarkable attitude regarding his early ups and downs.
“It is pretty hard [to find chemistry], but I like to play where the coach puts me. I try to do the best for the team wherever I play,” he said.