by Mike Chen on 09/28/09 at 11:09 AM ET
It’s the end of September, which means that we’re subjected to the annual Peter Forsberg comeback rumors. (Everyone collectively roll their eyes right now.)
Been there. Done that. Excellent player when healthy. Still has great vision and hands. Fragile, capable of straining a groin while reaching in the cupboard for cereal. Has an alien-infested foot that can’t seem to fit in any skate.
Oh, but the temptation. Just imagine, if—this time, really!—Forsberg was healthy, wouldn’t he be a fantastic addition to a team? Sure, maybe not a #1 center (even the most desperate GM would be delusional if he counted on Foppa to be his top guy), but if you needed another playmaking forward, a fiery competitor, a veteran presence who knows how to win at the most crucial of moments…boy, that sounds inviting, doesn’t it?
Well Peter, what do you have to say for yourself? “But my foot felt better tonight, and it feels like it’s going in the right direction.”
“Right direction.” That could mean just about anything with this guy, and GMs have to remember that he’s 36 years old. Yes, he doesn’t have the battle scars of NHL hockey from the past three years other than a handful of games, so maybe his body (sans foot) isn’t as beat up as it should be for a guy who plays a rough-and-tumble style.
So what would you get? And how much would you have to pay? He’s scoring goals and setting up plays for Modo, and he actually put in a decent number of points in the few games he showed up for in Colorado back at the tail end of the 2007-08 season. That year, the Avalanche paid a pro-rated $5 million contract, which came out to be about $1 million. It’s hard to think that Forsberg would get that considering a full season has passed since then and teams are under the cap crunch. If he’s healthy, there’s no reason why Forsberg can’t put up at least .7 points per game, most of those assists (you have to go points per game because you just can’t project total points in a season). Avalanche players noted that Forsberg’s constant health concerns were a distraction during his short return to Colorado, but that was mostly because of how the media was enamored with it, not because of Forsberg himself.
I’m guessing Forsberg will eventually sign for $2 million for a full year. How much of a distraction that becomes will probably depend more on the city and its expectations than anything else. If he returned to Denver—and they’ve certainly got the cap space to do it—the Foppa circus might prove to be a bigger sideshow than the team (though really, that might not be a bad thing considering that the Avs are in a transition year). If he went to a media hub like Toronto or New York, the questions would probably be non-stop, even on the days that he played. I’m guessing that that wouldn’t really bother Forsberg (the dude is on a stamp in his native country, after all), but GMs have to question whether the distraction would be worth it.
From an on-ice perspective, the right fit would be a playoff-capable team that needs a playmaking center, secondary scoring, and a veteran presence. Off the ice, the team would need the cap space, and it’d probably be better in a market where Forsberg’s health won’t be the sole focus of the team. However, Forsberg’s always seemed to be pretty loyal to the markets he’s played in before, at least whenever his annual comeback chatter begins, so maybe he returns to Colorado yet again. They need someone to sell tickets, right?
Here are Forsberg/Modo highlights from his last game (h/t to Jeff Klein for the original find). I love how the Swedish newscaster still says “power play” in English.
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