Photo credit: Chris Gordon
When Filip Forsberg was selected by the Washington Capitals 11th overall in the 2012 NHL Entry Draft, many draft experts praised his skill and scoring, projecting him as an offensive engine for his future team.
On Saturday during the Capitals’ final scrimmage of Development Camp, Forsberg showed off another part of his game which should put him on the fast track to the NHL: his defense.
In the third period of Saturday’s scrimmage, Forsberg and his teammates found themselves pinned in their own zone clutching a one-goal lead. After Team Red’s Matt Bailey failed to rifle a shot from the circles home, Forsberg dropped down to the slot and used a perfectly timed stick-check to deny T.J. Syner a rebound on a yawning net.
As the puck then found its way to the side boards, Forsberg hustled over to try and dig the puck free. He didn’t hesitate to push and shove with some of his opponents, even barking encouragement at his North American teammates — though not in any language they could understand.
“Jobba,” Forsberg aggressively yells at the 13 second mark. “Hårt där! Hårt där!… Bra!” Friend-of-the-blog Jacob Ware tells us that translates to the following in English: “Work! Hard! Hard!… Good!”
When I asked Forsberg after the scrimmage how he developed such advanced defensive skills for his age, he credited his Allsvenskan league team, Leksands Idrottsförening.
“I play with men over there,” the 17-year-old Forsberg explained. “Their standards are a bit higher than playing with the juniors. If I want to fit in, I have to learn these things.”
Filip continued,”We work a lot on [defense] back home in Sweden, and also on the national team we work a lot on it. If you can’t defend, you can’t win games. You have to be good in both.”
Which is why with a minute left in the scrimmage, Adam Oates, the coach of Team White, sent Forsberg out to close out the game.
In a sequence of about 30 seconds, Forsberg deflects a shot from the point, dives and nearly blocks another, and then blocks a third with his skates.
Despite his hustle, Team Red’s Syner scored on a broken play in front of the net and sent the game to overtime.
Forsberg may have an edge over some prospects who have not had a chance to play with older teammates, but he remains cognizant that he has plenty to work on before he makes the transition to the NHL.
“I have to get stronger and more heavy, better prepared physically, because it’s tough over there but it’s a couple steps even tougher in the NHL,” Forsberg said. “First of all, I need to work on my strength on my body. There are big guys, and also a little smaller rink here. It’s something you have to get used to because this is how it’s going to be in the NHL.”