Stop me if you’ve heard this before: Flip Forsberg is injured right as he was starting to play well.
The 27-year-old forward has been out of the Predators lineup since Nov. 2 when he collided with teammate Roman Josi in the neutral zone during a game against the Calgary Flames.
It appeared as if Josi’s right shoulder clipped Forsberg’s head. After tumbling to the ice and going to the bench, Forsberg later went to the locker room and didn’t return. He has been listed as week-to-week since, and Tuesday he was placed on injured reserve.
Forsberg tallied four goals and seven points in nine games. And despite missing the last three games, he is still tied for the second-most goals on the team and ranks fifth in points.
During a radio interview with 102.5-FM on Tuesday, Predators General Manager David Poile didn’t exactly sound optimistic about the brevity of Forsberg’s injury.
“I still think that we’re a ways away [from him returning],” Poile said. “I think he’s going to go skate on his own while we’re away [on the road trip] and we’ll see when we get back on Friday. But he’s certainly not going to play in the next two games.”
Unfortunately, Forsberg's durability issues have become as prominent to his game as his goal scoring ability.
After playing in every game during his first three full seasons with the Predators, Forsberg has had trouble staying healthy ever since. He has missed a combined 56 games over the last four seasons, and he's been shelved for at least 15 games or more in three of the last four years.
Twelve games into the 2021 season and Forsberg has already missed three games. By the time the Predators return home for Saturday’s matchup against the Arizona Coyotes, he will have been out for five games.
At the rate he’s going, the Predators might have to seriously consider if Forsberg is worth a long-term investment. Both Viktor Arvidsson and Ryan Ellis had their share of injury issues as well, and both found themselves on new teams this season.
It’s no secret that, when healthy, Forsberg is Nashville’s best forward. However, he will likely be seeking a substantial pay increase from his current $6 million-per-year salary, and Poile may have to ask himself if he is really willing to shell out that kind of money for a player who has missed nearly 20 percent of the Predators’ games over the last four seasons.
J.P. Barry, Forsberg’s agent, confirmed to The Athletic last week that he had not been in discussions with the Predators about a potential contract extension. Forsberg is also on record saying that he is in no rush to sign an extension with Nashville and that he is perfectly content playing out the season and discussing a deal in the offseason.
Aside from being serious buyers at the trade deadline, there doesn’t appear to be much the Predators can do to fix the strained relationship with Forsberg. The smart play here may be to gauge the trade market and pull the trigger on the best deal on the table and not risk losing Forsberg for nothing once the season ends.
Follow Michael Gallagher on Twitter @MGsports_