Thursday, July 21, 2011
For the past few seasons in Nashville, there has been a trend of different players raising their on-ice performance to a much higher than expected level. In the 2008-09 season, Joel Ward was that guy. Ward came out of virtually nowhere, and ended the season with 17 goals and 18 assists for 35 points.
In the 2009-10 season, Patric Hornqvist went from two goals in the previous season to 30 goals. Hornqvist ended up with 51 points on the season, and really came on the scene as the primary goal-scorer for the Preds.
Last season, Sergei Kostitsyn joined that list. After a very rocky road in Montreal, Kostitsyn found his fresh start in Nashville. He had 50 points at season's end, and led the Predators in goal-scoring with 23 goals.
This summer, the Predators acquired a young forward named Niclas Bergfors. At 24 years of age, Bergfors is still in the development stage of his career. Last season, Bergfors played with the Atlanta Thrashers before he was traded to the Florida Panthers. He had a combined 36 points with the two teams in 72 games played.
If Bergfors can stay healthy, he's not a bad offensive threat. In his NHL career, Bergfors has playe in 162 games, registerting 81 points in the process. He has a right-handed shot, and will be in a more offensive role in Nashville. Bergfors also has blazing speed, which will be a huge plus for the Predators.
Will Bergfors be the guy in 2011-12 that raises his game to an unexpected level? He certainly has some of the tools that suggest he has the potential to do so.