If you made of a list of the 10 players you thought were most likely to score 30+ goals this season, Viktor Arvidsson of the Nashville Predators would likely not have made that list. In all reality he probably would not have made the list if it were 50 players.
When the dust settled on the 2016-2017 season, the young Swedish winger posted 31 goals, tied with Artemi Panarin, Predators teammate Filip Forsberg, and Wayne Simmonds and one better than NHL leading scorer Conner McDavid.
Billed as undersized, Arvidsson burst onto the scene this season playing in the Predators top line with Forsberg and Ryan Johansen. Now he finds himself playing in the Stanley Cup Final against the defending champion Pittsburgh Penguins. If he hopes to deliver Nashville its first championship, he’ll need to be every bit as good as he was during the regular season to hoist the Cup.
Name: Viktor Arvidsson
Weight: 180 lbs.
Born: April 8, 1993 (24)
Drafted: 2014 NSH, 4th rd, 22nd pk (112th overall)
2016-17 stat line: 80 games played, 31 goals, 30 assists, 16 +/-, 28 PIM
2017 playoff stat line: 16 games played, 2 goals, 8 assists, 13 +/-, 2 PIM
2016-17 stats vs Penguins: 2 games played, 2 goals, 0 assists, even +/-, 0 PIM
2016-17 5v5 Advanced Stats: 55.7 CF%, 5.5% Corsi Relative, 101.03 PDO
2016-17 Playoffs 5v5 Advanced Stats: 55.8 CF%, 7.0% Corsi Relative, 109.8 PDO
Player detail (via The Hockey News Player Page)
HERO Chart (via Domenic Galamini):
2016-17 Nashville Predators player usage, via Corsica Hockey
Rolling Averages, via Corsica Hockey
Analysis: Players don’t score 31 goals in a season by accident in today’s NHL. Arvidsson may be undersized but what he lacks in size he makes up for in speed and skill. The Swedish winger barely made a blip on the radar last season outside of Nashville but made himself a household name with a 61 point effort in his first full NHL campaign. He can cause all sort of headaches for opposing defenses with his speed to the puck and ability to create offense either shooting the puck or dishing it off to one of his linemates. Arvidsson does more than just pass the eye test, he drives possession on the ice hovering around a 55% CF% for the season. Through three rounds this post season Arvidsson has posted 10 points (2 G, 8 A) playing an average of 19 minutes a night.
Most common line mates: During the regular season, Arvidsson skated a majority of his ice time alongside Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg, totaling over 500 minutes of combined ice time together. Playing as the Predators’ top line for most of the season, the three posted a 58.7% CF% together, the highest on the team. Once the playoffs began Arvidsson remained alongside Johansen and Forsberg for the bulk of his shifts through the first three rounds but during Game 4 of the Western Conference Finals Johansen suffered a thigh injury and underwent season ending surgery. Without Johansen the Predators were forced to move players around the lineup to adjust. During practice on Sunday, Arvidsson was working on the second line with Mike Fisher and James Neal.
Why you should know who he is: Because he’s going to be flying all over the ice looking to create issues for a battered Pens blue line. With Johansen out of the lineup more of a burden will fall on Arvidsson’s shoulders to create offense for Nashville. By the looks of it Arvidsson will be playing on a line with Mike Fisher and James Neal to start the series. This will be a different look for Ardvisson than he has been used to this season but he’ll still be playing with guys who can get him the puck and allow him to work his magic in the offensive zone.
How the Pens can stop him: One major factor in slowing down the young Swede will be limiting the time and space he needs to create offense. If he is given open looks with the puck he is going to force the issue and develop high danger chances for himself and his teammates. It has yet to be seen how the loss of Johansen will impact him but it may not matter if the Pens allow him to skate around undeterred. One thing the Pens could use to their advantage is Arvidsson’s lack of size. Putting a big body on him to knock him off the puck and get him off his game. Arvidsson is too good of a player to be completely shutout for an entire series, but limiting his chances to get free and create in the offensive zone will go a long way to helping the Pens claim the Stanley Cup.