Wings' target Forsberg still months away from a decision
August 16, 2007
The Red Wings will have to wait if they want to add Peter Forsberg.
Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray told The Ottawa Citizen that Forsberg’s agent said the star won’t make a decision on retiring or playing for months.
"I talked to (agent) Don Baizley last week and (Forsberg) is still two to three months away from making a decision (on retirement)," Murray told the paper. "It would be a disservice to us, I would be doing a disservice as a general manager, if I didn't make a call. I'm calling agents all the time, and I just asked, 'What's going on with Peter?' His foot isn't 100% and he has a small hernia problem."
The Senators might be interested in Forsberg, but they are near the $50.3-million salary cap and likely can’t afford to add any big-cost players.
Wings general manager Ken Holland has told Forsberg's agent that the Wings are interested in adding the Swedish superstar to their lineup.
Forsberg, 34, is recovering from yet another surgery on his right ankle, which has caused him constant grief since 2001. That, though, hasn't stopped him from attracting interest from clubs like the Wings, who still recognize him as one of the game's great clutch players.
The Denver Post reported earlier this month that Forsberg was back on skates and played in a charity game. He told local reporters he was still unsure his foot would be able to stand the rigors of an NHL season.
Last month, Free Press sports writer Helene St. James offered her analysis on why a Forsberg-to-Wings deal makes sense -- and why it might not happen.
1. They have the money
The Wings have between $4 million-$6 million to spend, certainly enough to make Forsberg a lucrative offer. Given his injury history (in the past two seasons alone, he has missed time because of ankle, knee, groin, back, wrist and concussion issues), the offer likely would be a relatively low base salary, plus copious bonuses.
2. An attractive surrounding cast
Forsberg isn't going to want to play for a team that might not even make the playoffs (which scuttles the Predators' chances of re-signing him). And he certainly knows what being teammates with Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Tomas Holmstrom and Mikael Samuelsson can yield: In 2006, they banded together to help Sweden win Olympic gold.
It needs to be noted, however, that having seven compatriots in the locker room (the list also includes Johan Franzen and Andreas Lilja) isn't necessarily going to play a big factor for Forsberg.
Lidstrom, who has played with Forsberg the most on national teams, told me during the playoffs that he isn't particularly close to Forsberg, and neither are the other six.
3. Second-line help
The Wings' entire second line (Robert Lang, Todd Bertuzzi and Kyle Calder) is gone. While there's little question Valtteri Filppula can handle more minutes and prospect Igor Grigorenko will make the team, the Wings could use another top-six forward, and a big one at that.
While Forsberg is a center, a position at which the Wings are deep, that isn't much of a stumbling block because, as we've seen the past two seasons, Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk, both natural centers, play better when they're on the same line. Last season, the two spent the first two months centering different lines to pedestrian effect. But after they were united, they, with Holmstrom, became the hottest line in the league.
Forsberg would make an ideal second-line center and could help Samuelsson recapture his scoring touch.
4. Why it won't happen
First, there is a possibility Forsberg will decide to spend a year playing in Sweden.
Second, there's the Colorado Avalanche factor. The franchise for which Forsberg played for nine seasons has $44 million committed, which gives them about the same cap space as the Wings. Given the upgrades made in signing Ryan Smyth and Scott Hannan, as well as the steady presence of Joe Sakic, the Avs look like playoff contenders again and surely would be attractive to Forsberg.
The Philadelphia Flyers, with whom Forsberg played only 100 games in two seasons before being traded to Nashville in the midst of last season, could also be interested.
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