A nickname given to him by Skelleftea general manager Lasse Johansson, perhaps it in part refers to the Nashville Predators forward’s level of energy and persistency when jumping in on the forecheck. But it’s also for his notorious habit of pecking his stick on the ice, demanding the puck.
His hard work, energy and persistence, as well as his ability with the puck, have allowed him emerge as a fan favorite in Nashville, which came within two victories of winning the Stanley Cup last season.
Passed up in the NHL Draft three consecutive years, he was selected by the Predators in the fourth round (No. 112) in 2014 at the age of 21. After playing 62 games for Nashville the previous two seasons, Arvidsson tied for the Predators lead with 31 goals and 61 points in 80 games last season. He had 13 points (three goals, 10 assists) in 22 Stanley Cup Playoff games to help them reach the Final for the first time.
Arvidsson signed a seven-year, $29.75 million contract with the Predators on Saturday. It runs through the 2023-24 season and has an average annual value of $4.25 million.
He said playing seven more seasons in front of Predators fans is a bonus.
“It’s been so much fun, especially early on when I got to realize how much they appreciate what I do,” Arvidsson said Monday. “That stuff never gets old. It’s always great to read all those positive comments.
“I love how they salute my effort and the fact that they apparently want me to keep playing there. For sure, they’ve really proved that they can be counted on as well.”
Arvidsson had an arbitration hearing in Toronto on Saturday, but the sides agreed to the contract before the arbitrator’s ruling.
“It felt really good when it was put on the table and I realized they wanted me there long-term,” he said. “It’s security, of course, but you can’t lean back just because you signed a long contract. I’m really happy with this deal. We’ve got something great going on right now in Nashville.
“Our defense is great. So is our offense. Of course I wanted to stay and be better and make the team better.”
Arvidsson also factored in the opportunity to play with a group of players from his home country, including forwards Filip Forsberg, Pontus Aberg and Calle Jarnkrok, and defenseman Mattias Ekholm. Swedish forward prospects Victor Ejdsell and Emil Pettersson will be looking to make the NHL roster in training camp.
“My girlfriend and I actually talked about that,” he said. “We have a lot of Swedes now in Nashville, and it’s a good social situation for us, which makes it easier and more fun overall, not just for the guys on the team.”
Center Mike Fisher is unsure whether he will play next season, and forward James Neal was selected by the Vegas Golden Knights in the NHL Expansion Draft, but that could allow for larger roles for forwards Aberg, Colton Sissons and Kevin Fiala, who each impressed during the playoffs.
“Now those guys will have a chance to step up,” Arvidsson said. “They’ve all been great when they’ve been called up, and I think Pontus and Sissons were big factors for us in the playoffs when other guys got hurt.
“And you know, Kevin had a bad injury, but he was good for us all year.”
Fiala had two goals in five playoff games before breaking his leg in Game 1 of the Western Conference Second Round against the St. Louis Blues. He began skating June 22.
Few had expected the Predators to sweep the Chicago Blackhawks in the first round or defeat the Anaheim Ducks to reach the Cup Final, but most experts will put them at or near the top of their Western Conference predictions this season. Arvidsson said he’s ready to meet those expectations.
“I think it’s just great,” he said. “If people believe in us, they put some pressure on us. I have no problem being on a top-ranked team. It keeps you focused.
“If you want to win you have to compete every single day to help make the guy next to you better for when it really matters. It’s that consistency I was talking about.”
As for last season’s Cup Final, which ended in a loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game 6, Arvidsson has moved on.
“I think I’m over it now,” he said. “Now I just want to get back at trying to win it.”