Despite missing 23 games due to injury, Nashville Predators forward Viktor Arvidsson is on pace for a career season. Appearing in only 49 games, he’s eclipsed the 30 goal mark. At even-strength, Arvidsson ranks among the league’s most prolific scorers. Looking at contracts around the NHL for players producing at similar rates, his $4.25 million AAV is a fraction of the price many of his peers are paid. Taking a deeper look at the numbers and comparable contracts, Viktor Arvidsson appears to be one of the league’s more underappreciated players.
Predators Viktor Arvidsson Is a Great Deal
If there’s one thing almost all 30 goal scorers in the NHL have in common, it’s their high price tag. With only 32 skaters around the league able to accomplish this feat last season, the lofty costs begin to make sense. Although Arvidsson was one goal shy of hitting the 30 goal mark in 2017-18, his numbers over the past three seasons suggest he belongs in the same category:
Viktor Arvidsson has scored 90 goals over the past three seasons. Of those, 73 are even strength goals.
— Adam Vingan (@AdamVingan) March 17, 2019
As the Athletic’s Adam Vingan notes, Arvidsson has indeed scored at a 30 goal pace over the past three seasons. The numbers are even more impressive considering the time missed due to injury as well as the number of even strength goals he’s tallied. In order to better appreciate the bargain that is Viktor Arvidsson, let’s take a look at a contract of a player producing at a level similar to that of the speedy Swedish winger:
James van Riemsdyk
Coming off an impressive 36 goal campaign with the Toronto Maple Leafs, James van Riemsdyk signed a five-year contract with the Philadelphia Flyers last summer carrying an AAV of seven million dollars. Much like Arvidsson, Van Riemsdyk has suffered from injuries this season. Despite this, JVR has managed to score 25 goals in 56 games played for the Flyers. Over a larger sample size, Van Riemsdyk has scored 90 goals over the course of the past three seasons. these numbers are nearly identical to that of Arvidsson over the same span.
Where the two differ is on their paychecks. Van Riemsdyk, four years Arvidsson’s senior, makes $2.75 million more dollars annually. Similarly, 25 of Van Riemsdyk’s goals since 2016-17 have come on the powerplay. Arvidsson has only tallied eight goals on the man advantage in that time period. At nearly 30 years old, it is safe to assume JVR is near the peak of his goal-scoring abilities. Conversely, at age 25, Arvidsson has had little powerplay opportunity. Given the chance, it’s safe to assume he can improve his numbers.
This comparison between the two players is not meant to question Van Riemsdyk’s value. Instead, the emphasis is on praising the job done by Predators General Manager David Poile. In fact, JVR’s addition to the Flyers this season has been viewed as a success by most in Philly.
Arvidsson Goal Scoring Rate Among NHL’s Elite
As previously mentioned, Arvidsson has not let injuries derail his 2018-19 season. In fact, his 0.63 goals per game are good for second in the NHL behind only Alex Ovechkin. Arvidsson is currently scoring at a 52 goal pace over the span of an 82 game season. Since the 2013-14 season, Ovechkin is the only NHL player to surpass the 50 goal mark. Considering Ovechkin’s legacy, being runner-up to “The Great Eight” is certainly nothing to be ashamed of for Viktor Arvidsson.
What makes Arvidsson unique from many of the league’s top scorers is his lack of powerplay production. The Predators winger has scored 29 even-strength goals in 49 games. With well over 90% of his goals coming at 5v5, Arvidsson is one of the NHL’s best even-strength scorers. Perhaps some of the lack of attention being paid to his production can be chalked up to the time he missed throughout the season.
Arvidsson a Steal for Predators from the Start
Viktor Arvidsson is not generating the buzz around the league that his numbers might warrant. This should surprise few outside Nashville. Arvidsson had been undervalued prior to his NHL career as well, which was shown in his draft year. Despite a decent showing for Sweden at the 2013 WJC, Arvidsson fell all the way to 112th overall to Nashville in the 2014 NHL Entry Draft. In looking back on the 2014 NHL draft, The Athletic’s Corey Pronman praised Nashville for their ability to swoop up Arvidsson in the fourth round. “Nobody did better on the draft floor in 2014 than the Predators. Their 112th pick, Viktor Arvidsson, potted 30 goals last season and could be an emerging star.”
— Corey Pronman (@coreypronman) October 11, 2017
Upon arriving in North America, Arvidsson immediately had success at the AHL level with the Milwaukee Admirals. After spending parts of the 2015-16 season with both the Predators and the Admirals, Arvidsson earned a full-time NHL spot the following year. Since then, Arvidsson has not looked back scoring 164 points in 207 games.
Other teams refrained from taking a chance on Arvidsson due to his size, with the Swede standing at only 5’9 and weighing just 180 pounds. Similarly, playing alongside stars such as P.K. Subban and Filip Forsberg and co. might shadow the success he’s had so far in his young career. In any case, with Arvidsson under a team-friendly contract until the 2023-24 season, you can be sure the Predators are showing Viktor all the affection the rest of the league might be neglecting to.