The Nashville Predators find themselves one point away from a wild card spot in the Western Conference. After their success last season, the Predators have not lived up to expectations. They are playing better of late, but still find themselves on the outside looking in. While not quite the powerhouse as usual the Central Division is still tough, and if the Predators are going to make it, they need contributions throughout the lineup.
Big names like Filip Forsberg, Ryan Johansen and Roman Josi are playing better now. Pekka Rinne’s numbers look respectable with a 2.40 goals against average and .920 save percentage. However, if the Predators are going to be a real threat this year, their depth players need to step up and provide additional offense. One such player who is doing so is Viktor Arvidsson.
The Impact of Viktor Arvidsson on the Nashville Predators
The 23-year-old has been a nice surprise for the Predators this season. The Predators selected Arvidsson in the fourth round in the 2014 draft. Playing 56 games last season, Arvidsson managed 16 points (8-8), playing primarily a bottom six role.
He has climbed his way up the Predators lineup ever since, and now skates alongside Johansen and Forsberg on the team’s top line. The pair of Arvidsson and Johansen has also been joined by James Neal at various points.
Through 41 games this season, Arvidsson has amassed 10 goals and 15 assists. This production has earned him more trust and responsibility from the coaching staff, including time on the power play, where he has seen just shy of 65 minutes.
If he continues at his current clip and can stay healthy (he missed two games recently with an injury), he is on pace for 50 points this season. The Predators will no doubt be thrilled if he can achieve that number, as they are unquestionably pleased with his performance thus far.
At 5’9”, 180 pounds, the undersized Arvidsson makes up for this deficit by playing with a lot of speed and smarts. He shows good vision as his 15 assists would suggest, and he has an ability to find the back of the net. Arvidsson first turned heads when he scored this overtime goal in last year’s playoffs to force a Game 7 against the Sharks:
This season, Arvidsson made the highlight reels again when he scored this beauty:
Arvidsson is not the type of player who makes plays like this on a night-in, night-out basis. He is a consistent performer who is capable offensively and reliable defensively, but he does show flashes of brilliance.
His underlying numbers reveal his consistent play. His 5-on-5 CF% is 55.24. By comparison, here are CF% numbers for some of the league’s other top right-wingers: Nikita Kucherov – 53.35%, Vladimir Tarasenko – 53.07%, Patrick Kane – 51.69%. Arvidsson certainly does not have the skill of these players, but when he is on the ice, his team possesses the puck and generates shots at a high rate. His GF/60 at 5-on-5 is 3.06 and GA/60 is 2.15. His personal scoring numbers suggest that he is not succeeding due to luck, either. Arvidsson has taken 130 shots this season, which is only nine off from his total last season in 15 fewer games. On those shots, Arvidsson is scoring at 7.7%, which is below the league average of about 9%.
Arvidsson is producing on merit and continues to elevate his game. He is a large reason the Predators are currently in position for a playoff spot. If the team manages to make it in and push deep in the playoffs, Arvidsson will be one major reason why.