Sunday, July 3, 2011

Predators Sign Bergfors and Some Perspective.

The Nashville Predators announced today that they have signed forward Niclas Bergfors to a one year contract. This announcement comes on the heels of the Predators trading Cody Franson and Matthew Lombardi to the Toronto Maple Leafs.

Here is the press release from the Predators:

Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed forward Niclas Bergfors to a one-year contract worth $575,000.

Bergfors, 24 (3/7/87), split the 2010-11 season between Atlanta and Florida, posting 36 points (12g-24a) in 72 games. During his first full NHL campaign with New Jersey and Atlanta in 2009-10, the Södertälje, Sweden native posted 21 goals and 44 points in 81 games, landing him a spot on the NHL’s All-Rookie Team. In 162 career NHL games since 2008, Bergfors has 81 points (34g-47a).

Drafted 23rd overall (first round) by the Devils in the 2005 Entry Draft, Bergfors was the youngest player in the American Hockey League in 2005-06 with the Albany River Rats after a decorated junior career in his homeland. The 5-10, 194-pound winger was the 2005 Swedish Junior Player of the Year, following the likes of Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Henrik Lunqvist, Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin. He has also represented the Tre Kroner in five international tournaments, earning a bronze medal and being named to the tournament all-star team at the 2005 Under-18 World Championships.
 The Bergfors signing is similar to the signing last season of Sergei Kostitsyn: a young forward that has offensive upside, but needs some coaching to make him a solid, two way player. Bergfors has the capability of adding some offense to the Predators, and should be more productive than the recently departed J.P. Dumont. Bergfors is, I believe, going to look to prove that he can be that type of player, and Barry Trotz and his staff should mold him into a solid contributor.

The Predators have freed up significant salary space, and this should allow the team to have plenty of room to sign Shea Weber as well as pursue more scoring help up front. In a conversation with one of the coaches after development camp, I was told this is exactly what the team is attempting to do.

There has been some concern about the departure of Franson, Lombardi, Dumont, Marcel Goc, Steve Sullivan, and Joel Ward. Here is some perspective: last season, when the Predators started their run to the playoffs, Goc, Lombardi, and Sullivan were out of the line up. Dumont was most often a healthy scratch. Only Ward was playing significant minutes, and his offensive production in the regular season was down 33% from the prior season (15 goals in 2010; 10 goals in 2011). Franson is a young player that has some upside and was solid on the power play, but the fact remains that he averaged just over 15 minutes a game and was on the third D pairing. 

Yes, the Predators have lost some players, but it is important to keep in mind that the Predators were winning
WITHOUT these players. Could some of them have been contributors in this upcoming season? There is no doubt. Yet this team has proven that they can win without these players. 

And they will again this season.

Look for the Predators to continue to be active, with a priority of signing Weber but also with an eye toward adding offense.

That is a good perspective to keep in mind if you are a Predator fan.

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