Pittsburgh's Kasperi Kapanen (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)
Nashville's Filip Forsberg has been reunited with his younger buddy from the Leksand Stars, Montreal pick Jacob De La Rose. With them clicking, Sweden aims for gold.
MALMO, SWEDEN – With 12 points between them through four games, it goes without saying that Filip Forsberg and Jacob De La Rose have been a boon to Sweden's cause. But the two big forwards also helped propel the club team Leksand up from the country's second tier, the Allsvenskan, to the elite Swedish League for this season.
Forsberg is now plying his trade in the NHL with Nashville, but still keeps tabs on his old squad – which happens to be beating expectations for a recently promoted club and currently sits tied for fifth in the 12-team circuit.
“It's kinda hard to watch all the games, obviously with the time change and the busy schedule in the NHL, but I've tried to watch as much as possible and they've been doing pretty good this year,” Forsberg said. “I have to say I'm very impressed so far.”
If the Preds rookie needs any updates, he can just ask De La Rose: the Montreal Canadiens draft pick talks to Forsberg through Skype nearly every day. De La Rose catches Forsberg up on the latest gossip and goings-on back in Sweden, but right now they're hanging out in person thanks to the Predators releasing Forsberg to the Tre Kronor for the world juniors.
“It's amazing,” De La Rose said. “We talked about this in the summer, coming back and playing together. And it's in Sweden too, so it's even better. We know each other on the ice and we have good chemistry so we just have to keep scoring.”
With another NHLer, Carolina's Elias Lindholm, on their line, the buddies have been tough to stop, helping the Swedes to an unblemished record in the round robin and a nice draw in Slovakia for the quarterfinal. While Forsberg is already in the NHL, De La Rose may not be too far off. There was a bit of a blip for him this summer when he was taken by the Ontario League's Windsor Spitfires in the major junior Import Draft, but could not get permission from Leksand GM Tommi Salo to leave the Swedish franchise. Even though De La Rose had the Canadiens on his side, his hands were tied.
“Montreal wanted me to go over to Windsor, but it ended up me staying in Leksand and things are going good so far, so I'm not thinking about it,” he said. “I've developed a lot in the Swedish League and this is the way I'm going now.”
De La Rose's contract with Leksand is up after this season, so a move to North America – whether it be to major junior, the American League or the NHL – is a possibility to consider. If he needs any advice, he can always Skype his good friend Forsberg, who is learning the ropes this year with the Predators. Limited to 12 games due to a couple injuries and the occasional healthy scratch, Forsberg has also played seven games in the AHL with Milwaukee, where he tore it up with three goals and eight points.
“It was tough not playing, but it's been a good experience moving over and getting to know the Predators organization,” he said. “I feel like I've been improving both on and off the ice.”
Forsberg is living on his own and has an older friend helping him, just as he looked out for De La Rose in Leksand last season. Preds defenseman Mattias Ekholm, still young himself at 23, lives in the same apartment building as Forsberg and the pair often hang out and have meals together.
While De La Rose will have to wait until the Habs go to Nashville to dine during the season with Forsberg in the future, they would undoubtedly love to bite down on a gold medal on home ice in the short term.
Get scores, schedules and more on THN.com’s World Junior Championship Central page.