As a fan of the Colorado Avalanche since they moved to Denver, it's easy to know why I hold a special place for Peter Forsberg. How can I forgot Forsberg missing the entire 01-02 season only to return and become arguably the best player in the playoffs? Then there's the magic that Forsberg captured along with Milan Hejduk in the 02-03 where he won the Hart Trophy and helped Hejduk en route to a 50 goal season. After he left Colorado and returned to where it all should have started, he still put up good numbers despite more injuries and the Flyers less than stellar season last year. Now that we're over a week into the NHL Free Agency period, the guy who should be getting paid Drury, Gomez, Briere, and Smyth money is still sitting pretty.
According to Eklund here at HockeyBuzz, 3 teams are interested in Forsberg: Philly, Detroit, and Vancouver.
*Philadelphia Flyers: When they traded Forsberg near the deadline last season, they knew there was always a chance that he would return in the off-season. But after signing Briere to a big contract, picking up Jason Smith, Joffrey Lupul, Kimmo Timonen, and Scott Hartnell, and Teemu Selanne rumored to be signing there any day now, one has to wonder how much cap the Flyers will exactly have for Forsberg. Of course if the Flyers want him and Forsberg wants to be there they will work out a deal but will they go further this time around?
*Detroit Red Wings: Why? After all the history between the Avs and the Wings, why? I know the rivalry isn't what it once was but we have to remember that outside of Claude Lemieux, Peter Forsberg was the next Wings target. Maybe it's my dislike for the Red Wings that never wants to see #21 in Red & White and playing at the Pepsi Center in Red & White but I just can't see this happening and if it does happen, I don't know if I could accept it.
*Vancouver Canucks: One word, Markus Naslund. It seems obvious that Naslund would be the selling factor for Forsberg to come to Vancouver. Of course the Nucks need scoring help and when he's healthy, Forsberg will provide that but if Naslund wasn't in Vancouver, this wouldn't be talked about. The thing is, these two had their chance to unite in the NHL a few years ago and they passed on it. The circumstances are a bit different now but if Forsberg were to go to Vancouver, could he handle the top line workload, something I think he wants to get away from.
So based on those three options I think Philly would be the best fit for both the team and Forsberg. That is of course if Francois Giguere is serious about not bringing back Forsberg. Now if Francois decides to take the risk on Peter, I can't see why he wouldn't want to return to Denver. I give the following reasons:
*Playing as a Wing: With Paul Stastny and Joe Sakic likely playing as the top two centers, it would seem certain that Forsberg would occupy a wing spot, meaning he wouldn't have to work as hard on the defensive end, meaning he won't have to worry with the down low battles.
*Familiarity: He knows the city, he knows the fans, he knows the organization, and he knows some of the players. I suspect it wouldn't take him long to re-create the magic that he once had with Milan Hejduk.
*Shot at the Cup: Now I know the Wings, Nucks, and Flyers all have good chances of making the playoffs and thus competing for the Cup but I like the Avs chances just as much. The Wings are continuing to age and this could be the season that they show that age, the Nucks are going to go as far as Luongo carries them, and the Flyers always seem to fall short of expectations.
*Scott Hannan: Come on, you know Peter would love the fact that he won't have to see Hannan x number of times a year after his battles with him in the playoffs.
So while Giguere has expressed that Forsberg will most likely not be back, I say if he's willing to take a reasonable amount of money, he's worth the risk as the reward could be much higher.