24 July 2007
The first and foremost thing you have to talk about with Peter Forsberg is injuries. Can he stay healthy? Well that's the $3-4M dollar question. While he has shown a propensity for getting hurt (and that's being very nice) he was able to play 57 games last season. The Avs do not need "Peter the Saviour", as we've already brought in the Magnificent Mullets to put us into the playoffs. Philly's problem is that they needed a healthy Forsberg, and next season I think the Avs just want a healthy Forsberg. there's a big difference in those and, I feel, makes the injury risk worth it. The point is I don't see the downside. If he's hurt he's only taking a roster spot, and if he's healthy he's one of the best players in the world. If you're going to gamble, it's best to gamble when there's more to gain than lose.
Another argument against Forsberg I've heard is the "Where is he going to play?" He can play Center (which is firmly entrenched by Statsny and Sakic) or Left Wing (Hejduk and Smyth). Maybe I don't understand it quite enough but the Avs top 6 forwards going into next season are: Sakic, Brunette, Smyth, Hejduk, Statsny and Wolski. The argument seems to be that Forsberg will have to play on the third line. Well first of all replace Wolski with Forsberg, and how potent do those top two lines become? How about a third line of Arnason, Svatos and Wolski? A checking line of Guite-Lappy-Rycroft/Parker? Talk about high reward. If the Avs had a top two lines that look like:
Is there a better 2-line combo in the NHL? What about a powerplay of Foppa-Smyth-Hejduk-Sakic-Leopold and a second unit of Bruno-Statsny-Wolski-Clark-Liles. Hell the Avs could put Theo in goal and still win games (even though I don't recommend it)
Forsberg, when healthy (Aside: I think he's going to have to legally change his name to Peter Forsberg, when healthy) is still performing better than most players. Last season he was at nearly a point-per-game pace, despite playing on the Flyers. His even strength OIE (which is points per 20/minutes of actual playing time) is still at .752 which is actually a touch worse than than Tyler Arnason's last season (.756), however remeber that Foppa played in Philly most of the season, so that number is not completely accurate. (don't worry stats fans, I've already got an idea on how to correct for playing on a lowsy/defensive minded team). The stat that really sticks out is his PP-OIE (powerplay points/20 minutes of actual ice-time) which is 2.210. You would be adding to a powerplay, that was already 4th in the NHL last season, a guy who scores more proficiently on the powerplay than anyone else on that 4th ranked unit.
He was also the best player down the stretch for Nashville last season, including being their best player against the sharks in their first round series. He was brilliant in the game that essentially knocked the Avs out of the playoffs and he was great, as usual, in the playoffs. That, my friends, is high reward.
If the Avs sign Forsberg it is entirely for the playoffs. Getting hurt in the regular season, to me, would mean nothing. As far as I'm concerned he only needs to stay healthy for the 30 or so games of bonus hockey at the end of the season. This means limiting his regular season ice-time. 15/minutes per game seems about right (he played 18 last season). No penalty kills. If he teaks something (groin etc) sit him for a game to be healthy. No playing through pain for him in the regular season.
He's completely worth the risk, mainly because it's low risk. I just don't see what the Avs lose by bringing him in for a 1-year contract, with a team option for 2. Of course i'm not writing him a the checks, but I still don't seeing what the Avs lose by signing him, especially if they sign him 1/3 of the way in the season and give some playing time to guys like Hensik, Wolski and Svatos in the 1/3 I think they should sign him ain about December (maybe take a conditioning assignment at Lake Erie for 2-3 games to build some interest in that team in Cleveland) and bring him in at the all-star break. Limit his ice time (he played 18 minutes per game last season, dropping that down to 15 for the regular season may not hurt). Remember if he's brought back it's entirely for the playoffs.
The verdict: a 1-year $2M-$2.5M contract with playoff ice time per game incentives (defaulting to games played in the case the Avs don't make the playoffs) and a team option for a second year seems like a pretty acceptable risk
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