The 2019-20 season has been a forgettable one for the Nashville Predators, especially for a handful of the organization's most prized assets. Viktor Arvidsson is one of them, who so far this year has recorded the lowest point total since his rookie season in 2015-16.
Arvidsson had tallied a decent 15 points in his first 22 games of the 2019-20 season, and then Robert Bortuzzo happened. On Nov. 23, St. Louis' chief goon administered two illegal cross-checks to the lower part of Arvidsson's spine. After being out of the lineup for a month, Arvy hasn't been able to shake the rust off the wheels. In the 35 games he's played since returning from injury, Arvidsson has notched just 10 points as well as a -5 on-ice rating.
Once a third of the uber-productive JoFA line, Arvidsson joins Ryan Johansen in seemingly still trying to pick up the pieces from the trio's separation while Filip Forsberg remains dominant. The frustration of each missed shot, foiled breakaway, and collapsed backcheck paints Arvidsson's face game in and game out. As a fan favorite in Nashville, Arvidsson's struggles have been obvious to even a casual observer of Preds' games.
With 34 goals in 2018-19, Arvidsson surpassed Forsberg's 2016-16 total of 33 goals for the single-season franchise goals record. Suffice it to say, Arvidsson's 15 goals this season are a far, far cry from last season.
Outside of his rookie season, Arvidsson is having the worst offensive year of his career. Last year, Arvy played only 58 regular season games and was still scoring at a franchise record pace. He's played just one fewer game this season and has more than halved his goal production. After his scary November injury, Arvidsson was noticeably trigger-shy when taking shots. He took only 127 shots over the entire regular season- the fewest he's taken in a single complete season since he arrived in the league.
Over the previous three seasons, Arvidsson averaged a breathtaking 5.8 offensive point shares; his forechecking prowess generated a significant portion of the Preds' total offense. This season, however, Arvidsson has accumulated just 1.8 OPS. He went from leading the team's OPS in 2018-19 to finishing 11th in 2019-20.
Similar to most of Nashville's top-end forwards, Arvidsson is being crushed defensively this year. From building up a +48 on-ice rating over the previous three seasons, Arvidsson dipped below zero for the first time since 2016 this year. He shares his -4 rating with Matt Duchene and Mikael Granlund, coming in at seventh-worst on the team.
Including this season, Arvidsson has maintained positive Corsi and Fenwick ratings for his entire career. They are, however, offset this year by Arvidsson's career-low on-ice save percentage of 89.8. Arvy's personal defensive backslide can be excused by the possibility that his November injury is still nagging him, but it fails to account for his entire line's weaknesses.
GENERAL EFFECTIVENESS AND TEAM INFLUENCE
Arvidsson is another of David Poile's numerous draft steals, taken 112th overall in 2014. In 2014-15, Arvidsson put up a team-leading 55 points during his first season in Milwaukee with Austin Watson and Colton Sissons following him at second and third, respectively.
Arvy's first claim to fame among Preds fans was when he took an illegal hit from Anaheim's Nick Ritchie during the 2017 Western Conference Final (what is it about this guy and being on the receiving end of illegal hits) and got up from the ice with a giant, bloody 'R' imprinted on his forehead. He is notorious for his hustle and no-quit attitude despite standing at a mere 5'9- which has only appealed to fans even more. During the summer after the 2017 Cup run, Arvidsson signed a seven-year deal with the Preds that will keep him in Nashville until 2024.
Arvidsson, Forsberg, and Mattias Ekholm were all instrumental in Sweden's 2018 World Championship win; in five games, Arvidsson scored three goals and maintained a +4 rating.