On Thursday morning, the Predators bit the bullet and moved on from a core piece of their Western Conference-winning era in 2017 and 2018. Viktor Arvidsson was dealt to the Kings for a second-round pick in the 2021 draft, as well as a third-round pick in 2022.
This one's gonna hurt. Arvidsson was a fan favorite, a tenacious goal scorer, and the formerly prestigious JoFA line's bookend. In 2018-19, Arvidsson set the franchise record for single-season goals with 34. Perhaps most importantly, the "undersized" Arvidsson left his heart and soul on the ice every single game, earning him the Arvy Hustle moniker.
Arvidsson gave Preds fans a bevy of memorable moments. His bloody forehead "R" went viral after a dangerous hit from Nick Ritchie in the 2017 Western Conference Final against the Ducks. His breakaway goal and subsequent crowd salute celebration in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final not only became a widely used GIF, but also helped the Preds tie the series against the Penguins at two games apiece. And then there's the Big Jump; Arvidsson leapt about three feet off the ground when he scored his record-breaking 34th goal on Apr. 6, 2019 at home against the Blackhawks. Arvidsson has subjectively been one of the Preds' most exciting players to watch in team history.
However, as lovable as Arvidsson may be, he hasn't performed nearly as well in the last two seasons; his 34-goal season in 2018-19 was followed up by a combined 25 goals in 2019-20 and 2020-21. He's been nagged by various injuries, playing fewer than 60 games every year since 2017-18. Just this past season, Arvidsson went the entire month of February without a goal and collected just two assists in the meantime. Arguably his most notable moment from the last two years was his birthday hat trick in April of this year.
In the Preds' last three playoff bids, Arvidsson recorded just three goals in 12 games played. Even after coming off a record-setting season in 2018-19, he went without a single point in the disconcerting first-round loss to Dallas.
It's easy to fall into the mindset that the Preds "lost" this trade, especially when the return for a franchise favorite effectively comes in the form of ambiguous future players. Arvidsson could easily turn around and regain his status as a first line forward, pulling a Kevin Fiala-esque rebirth and cementing himself as a centerpiece in Los Angeles. The Kings are a young team with tremendous potential; Arvidsson will be ostensibly flanked by the youthful likes of Quinton Byfield, Tobias Bjornfot, Gabe Vilardi, and Adrian Kempe, giving him the opportunity to prove his scoring potential.
Think about it this way- the trade leaves Nashville with three top-50 picks in the draft on July 23 & 24, as well as allowing the Preds one extra forward slot to protect in the expansion draft on July 21. In addition, passing off Arvidsson's contract to the Kings clears $4.25 million in annual cap space for the Preds heading into offseason free agency. For a team that has more or less stayed put in the last few trade deadlines, their now $22.9 million budget will be a strong bargaining chip.
Arvidsson is surely going to be missed by his teammates and fans alike, but such is the business of professional sports.