Filip Forsberg poses with Gary Bettman, George McPhee, and Ross Mahoney. (Photo credit: Bruce Bennett)
As the number 11 pick drew near, it seemed as if George McPhee would get a steal regardless of who he took. Both Mikhail Grigorenko and Filip Forsberg, rated as top five talents heading into the draft, had been passed over by the first ten teams.
“We were surprised,” McPhee told the media after he made the selection. “We didn’t expect Forsberg to be there at all.”
The 6-1, 190-pound right-handed shooting forward was the highest ranked European skater heading into the draft and The Hockey News, TSN, International Scouting Service, and Hockey Prospectus all had Forsberg ranked fourth or higher in their rankings. So why did he fall so low? Does he have webbed feet? Is he secretly rumored to be 45-years-old?
“Sometimes that happens in the draft,” McPhee explained. “A good player falls because everybody’s so zoned in on a certain guy… This draft had a lot of good defensemen.”
It sure did. In fact, eight of the first 10 picks were defensemen. Before McPhee pulled the trigger at number 11, seven straight rearguards had been called to the stage.
Despite falling out of the top ten, Forsberg was still very excited. “It’s a big honor to go to the Washington Capitals and be a part of their great organization,” the prospect said smiling ear-to-ear. “Hopefully, this is a start of a good career.”
In 43 games with Leksands IF of Allsvenskan, Forsberg had 8 goals and 9 assists in 43 games. He also was a standout performer at both the 2011 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament where Sweden won silver and the 2011 World Junior Championships where they won gold.
Forsberg as a kid.
Growing up, Filip modeled his game after his idol, Peter Forsberg (whom he’s not related to), and his style has been compared to that of Corey Perry’s. “He’s got that dynamic two-way power forward game,” Dan Marr, the NHL’s Director of Central Scouting explained. “He’s quite aggressive on the puck, but he shows a really soft touch around the net because he produces in key situations.”
After attending Development Camp in July, Forsberg will return to Sweden next season as has one more year remaining on his contract with Leksands. After that? He’s not so sure. “We’ll see. Hopefully, I can have a good season and everything can happen.” Which we assume means, McPhee will offer him an entry-level deal.
Until then, we must wait at least one year for the potential all-Swede line of Filip Forsberg, Nicklas Backstrom, and Marcus Johansson.
Forsberg highlights with the appropriate European pump-up music.
Forsberg scores two goals against Russia in the 2012 World Under-18 Hockey Championship.
Forsberg talks about fellow countryman Nicklas Lidstrom.
A beaming Forsberg talks to the media.
Forsberg chats with Mike Vogel after being selected at number 11.