Forsberg ready to get feet back in NHL

Forsberg ready to get feet back in NHL
By Ross McKeon, Yahoo Sports
January 31, 2008

Ross McKeon
Yahoo Sports
Peter Forsberg hung a big "for rent" sign on himself Thursday. Now let's watch the bidders scramble to win him over.

Actually, the 34-year-old Swedish star with two Stanley Cup rings won with Colorado in addition to stops in Philadelphia and Nashville over an 11-year NHL career, is more for lease on a multi-year basis. While he appears intent now on hockey in North America, it's not just for the remainder of this season, but through at least next year, too.

Modo of the Swedish Elite League had offered to allow Forsberg to finish out the current season in his homeland, but he declined, since signing such a contract would make him ineligible for the NHL this season.

Forsberg told his agent, Don Baizley, to start entertaining offers from NHL teams for a "modest" two-year deal.

While he's certain to get plenty of attention, the courtship stage may be just for show. He's already told former teammates he wants to return to Philadelphia. After 11 straight years of finishing either first or second in their division, out of nowhere the Flyers found themselves out of the playoff chase by the holidays last season, and Forsberg found himself on the move to Nashville for a package of players and draft picks.

It was an awkward exit for Forsberg, who the Flyers named as their 15th captain earlier in the season. The Predators were looking for their first postseason series win in three tries, and thought Forsberg could put them over the hump. But Nashville had the bad fortune of matching up against a bigger and more disciplined San Jose team for a second straight postseason.

While Forsberg contributed four points in five games, he only made a difference in one and the Sharks eliminated the Predators in five games for the second straight spring.

Forsberg, who won two Olympic gold medals, has really struggled with ankle and foot injuries the last several seasons. Last year was the first in which the 2003 league MVP averaged less than a point per game in the regular season.

He had surgery on his left foot the previous offseason, but conjecture among several general managers was that he should have had the procedure done on both feet at the same time. Instead, Forsberg tried to play last year on a bad right ankle and foot, and it didn't go well. In fact, when he tried to pick up hockey again just last October, the problems continued. He underwent surgery in November, received medical clearance to return to skating two weeks ago and now he wants to return to the NHL.

Philadelphia, Colorado, Ottawa, Detroit, Anaheim, Vancouver and the New York Rangers appear the most interested out of a dozen teams expected to inquire. Figure it's safe to add Pittsburgh, San Jose and Dallas to the list, too. If Forsberg gets the $1 million he wants for the rest of this season, it equates to a cap hit of $2.4 million this season and next – basically a bargain in today's NHL economic landscape.

If Forsberg's loyalties are not as strong to Philadelphia as has been suggested, his decision will be an interesting one. Detroit would seem to be a logical destination considering they already have seven Swedes, led by longtime national teammate Nicklas Lidstrom.

But the Red Wings have taken two runs at Forsberg previously and he hasn't shown interest in joining the perennial Stanley Cup contender. It may be as simple as the fact he and the Wings were bitter rivals when Forsberg was a member of the Avalanche, and those feelings just haven't dissipated.

Detroit, meanwhile, may have its eyes on another Swedish star, far less a household name than Forsberg. The Red Wings are considered front-runners for the soon-to-be 23-year-old Fabian Brunnstrom, an undrafted forward who has blossomed to star status in the Swedish Elite League. Brunnstrom is still obviously untested in the NHL, not a first- or second-line star like Forsberg, but the Wings certainly shouldn't feel any pressure to do a deal for Forsberg considering their offensive firepower.

Vancouver, led by Swedish twins Daniel and Henrik Sedin along with Markus Naslund up front, definitely have a need for offensive depth and might offer enough legitimate Cup aspirations to entice Forsberg. Ottawa, Anaheim, and even San Jose provide realistic Cup hopes that Forsberg could see himself helping to fulfill.

Whether Forsberg is healthy enough to help a team is a big question. The team who can add Forsberg to compliment others around him instead of asking him to be the centerpiece is the best fit for all concerned. Then again, who was the least active team at last year's deadline, adding only Brad May? Yes, the eventual Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks.

Ross McKeon is an NHL editor for Yahoo! Sports. Send Ross a question or comment for potential use in a future column or webcast.

Updated on Thursday, Jan 31, 2008 11:11 pm, EST

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