- The Washington Times - Thursday, July 12, 2012

Asked who he models his game after, Filip Forsberg hesitated only slightly.

“Well, no not really pattern my game after. But maybe Corey Perry,” the Washington Capitals’ first-round pick said. “He’s also a very big-sized, right-handed guy. Got a good shot and also good hands and he’s pretty big and can play a bit physical, so maybe him.”

Maybe, just maybe. But the Caps would take it if Forsberg develops into an offensive star like Perry, the Anaheim Ducks winger who put up 50 goals to capture the Hart Trophy as league MVP in 2010-11. And while he has work to do with one more season playing in Sweden, development camp this week is a glimpse of Forsberg’s NHL potential.

Skating with older prospects, Forsberg already looks like a player who once was considered one of premier options available in last month’s draft. Washington got a steal at No. 11 and believes he’ll be able to contribute as a top-six forward.

As for the Perry comparison, it might not be far off.

“He has some of that,” director of amateur scouting Ross Mahoney said. “He’s strong in the corners, he’s got very good hands. He’s good around the net, can score. He’s scored at every level he’s played at. I can see how he could draw comparisons from himself to Corey Perry.”

NHL Central Scouting head Dan Marr once likened him to future Hall of Famer Brendan Shanahan, too. Either way, the 17-year-old has high expectations.

He has one more year left on his contract with Leksands IF and would love if his game develops enough that the Caps call for him next fall. If not, no big deal.

“I don’t really feel any stress to get over here,” Forsberg said. “If it feels good, maybe I come over and play and try to take a spot on the Capitals, but if [I] doesn’t feel ready, I can play another year in Sweden or something more like that.”

Easygoing off the ice, Forsberg doesn’t shy away from mucking it up in the corners and around the net. Defenseman Cameron Schilling called him a “very explosive player,” and that was just the start of the praise from fellow campers.

Big forward Tom Wilson, taken by the Caps five picks after Forsberg, knows his style from defending him in the Ivan Hlinka Tournament last year.

“Obviously, the kid can score, great shot. The thing I notice, he comes out of the scrums with the puck in his feet, and it’s glued to his tape,” Wilson said. “He’s a really, really talented kid. I’m really looking forward to working with him and being teammates in the future.”

While Wilson’s road to the Caps is projected to be longer than Forsberg‘s, there’s still plenty of time before the Swedish winger’s all-around game resembles Perry‘s. And he has the smarts to recognize where he needs to improve.

“First of all, it’s much more physical game over here, and that’s a big part that you have to get used to, and I try to work on that,” Forsberg said. “Just getting bigger and stronger.”

His finishing touch could use some polishing as well after just eight goals in 43 games last season. But the tools are there.

What might be lacking the most between Forsberg and Perry is a mean streak, the willingness to play on and over the edge. Just like the lofty comparison, Forsberg won’t shy away from trying add snarl to his game.

“You have to play by the rules,” he said. “But as I been saying before, I’m a pretty big player, and if I can use my big body as a tool to my game, yeah, that would be great.”

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