PITTSBURGH, PA - JUNE 22: Filip Forsberg, 11th overall pick by the Washington Capitals, speaks to media during Round One of the 2012 NHL Entry Draft at Consol Energy Center on June 22, 2012 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Exactly three weeks after being picked by the Caps with the 11th overall pick, the 17-year-old Swedish product signed his first North American professional contract
Last month in Pittsburgh during the 2012 NHL Draft, the Capitals couldn't believe their good fortune when the top-ranked European skater fell all the way down to their first-round pick, and Washington enthusiastically drafted Filip Forsberg.
Exactly three weeks after being picked by the Caps with the 11th overall pick, the 17-year-old Swedish product signed his first North American professional contract, a three-year entry-level deal with the Capitals, worth $832,500 at the NHL level and $70,000 if he plays in Hershey.
Despite the fact he now is under contract with Washington, Forsberg told reporters Friday he would still continue his plan to play in Europe next season - he had indicated he was not coming over for the 2012-13 season at the draft - and today said he will not be at Capitals' training camp in September since it coincides with his Swedish club Leksand's season.
With a contract in hand, however, the question now becomes when Forsberg makes his North American debut.
"Of course, that's a hard question," Forsberg said when asked when he would be joining the Caps full-time. "I will be playing in Leksand this year, but if the Caps want me over, maybe I give it a shot, but it's hard to tell a year ahead."
The timing of the signing of the entry-level deal is a bit unusual, as typically picks sign their deal just as they are ready to enter the organization's system. According to the release announcing the deal, the Capitals are "expected to assign" Forsberg to Leksand, who he had been under contract to for the upcoming season.
"My agent has been talking to the staff in Capitals since the draft," Forsberg said. "They wanted to sign me and of course I wanted to be signed for such a big organization, a good team. So yeah, it was a dream coming true to sign with the Capitals."
The deal does allow the Caps to put the first-rounder under a deal under the current collective bargaining agreement - which expires in September. It also potentially opens the door for Forsberg to play late next season in Washington or Hershey since he would be under an existing entry-level deal, once the Swedish season ends.
Forsberg has been participating in the Capitals' Development Camp at Kettler Capitals Iceplex in Arlington this week, and just in the fifth day of camp - just 21 days after donning a Washington sweater on the podium at Consol Energy Center in Pittsburgh - he signed a deal.
"I felt pretty good," Forsberg said Friday. "I got a good first feeling from the Capitals. I thought it was a good decision to get it done right away."
Forsberg was the top-ranked European skated by Central Scouting heading into this year's draft, but the 17-year-old slipped down the board as there was a run on defensemen. Washington had not anticipated Forsberg falling down to their spot heading into the draft, but were pleased to have landed a prospect that scouts consider close to NHL-ready.
He has been showing off a deft passing touch this week playing against other of the club's prospects, and the club hopes that he will be able to put those on display in the near future.
Forsberg and the rest of Washington's prospects wrap up development camp Saturday morning at Kettler at 10 a.m., as the team also holds its annual FanFest.