Handicapping the Forsberg Sweepstakes

With Peter Forsberg set to play for Sweden in a small tournament in Finland (Karjala Cup) next week and set to make a decision on returning to his NHL career shortly after I think it is time to take a look at the possible destinations. There are potentially three significant factors that will influence where Forsberg will end up playing:

The ability of the team to win the Stanley Cup

When you are a player who can pretty much decide to play wherever you want you will naturally gravitate towards choosing a team who can win. This is particularly true for older players who have already made a bundle of money and are set for life financially. All indications are that Forsberg has this mindset and really wants to play for a winner. With that in mind, here is a fairly deep list of teams with a relatively decent chance of winning a cup loosely ranked in order of chance of winning: Detroit, Ottawa, Colorado, Minnesota, San Jose, Carolina, NY Rangers, Calgary, Vancouver, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Dallas, Anaheim.

Familiarity of the team and/or players on that team.

I have read several reports that Forsberg would give preference to returning to a team he has already played with. That would put Colorado, Philadelphia and Nashville as potential destinations. There are also reports that he might enjoy playing with fellow Swedes, or at least fellow Swedes will try to convince him to come play with them. Teams with a significant Swedish contingent of players include Detroit (Lidstrom, Zetterberg, Holmstrom, Kronwall, Samuelsson, Lilya, Franzen), Vancouver (Naslund, Ohlund, Sedins), Ottawa (Alfredsson), Toronto (Sundin), NY Rangers (Lundqvist) and Dallas (Norstrom). Not all Swede’s are created equal though so guys in Forsberg’s age group (Alfredsson, Naslund, Lidstrom, Sundin) probably have an edge over younger Swede’s who Forsberg isn’t as familiar with and hasn’t play with as much in international competitions (i.e. Lundqvist, Sedin’s, etc.).

Ability for that team meet his salary/contract requests

The final factor is who has the salary cap space to pay Forsberg. Though salary may not be at the top of Forsberg’s priority list, it will be a factor as several teams have an ability to pay him good money. I would expect Forsberg might end up with a contract similar to the contract he signed in Philadelphia which would put him in the $5-6 million range. If Forsberg returns to the NHL in late November or early December it would put the teams salary cap impact at approximately two thirds of Forsberg’s annual salary or about $4 million. There aren’t too many teams listed above that can afford Forsberg’s salary without shedding any salary. The candidate teams (a team mentioned above) that could fairly easily afford (both salary cap wise and internal budget wise) Forsberg’s salary for the current season Colorado, Anaheim (if Niedermayer doesn’t return), Pittsburgh and San Jose though Pittsburgh and San Jose have an abundance of skilled centers already. Detroit has some cap space available as well and if necessary could push Hasek’s bonus money (should he obtain them) onto next years cap space. All other teams would have to shed salary to add him. The Ottawa Senators could probably afford Forsberg if they could manage to shed Martin Gerber’s $3.7 million contract and with his good play to this point in the season it may be possible though I am not sure there are all that many teams looking for a goalie with a good sized contract (maybe Phoenix if they could shed Morris’s contract). Vancouver could if they could find a taker for Brendan Morrison’s $3.2 million contract. Dallas would need to free up a couple million in cap space but the only potential candidates to create that space would be Mike Ribeiro or Mattias Norstrom though Norstrom’s contract is probably a tough one to move at this point in the season and it is borderline whether freeing up Ribeiro’s contract would create enough space to afford Forsberg. The Flames who always seem to be looking for a center for Iginla could possibly afford Forsberg if they rid themselves of Conroy’s contract. The Philadelphia Flyers are very tight to the cap and would have to get rid of a couple of contracts to afford Forsberg. They could rid themselves of Hatchers contract by either trading him (which is not likely possible) or sending him to the AHL but they would still have to make another move and the remaining candidate are either core players making real big bucks that won’t likely get moved or are lesser players that just don’t make enough money to make any significant impact. Most of the rest of the teams probably don’t have enough interest in Forsberg or vice versa to really make any attempt at freeing up cap space to sign him.

There is also talk that Forsberg might be looking for a three year deal. If this is the case it puts a whole new spin on the situation. While it may be somewhat easy for Ottawa to rid themselves of Gerber’s contract and sign Forsberg for this year, with Spezza, Vermette, Eaves, and Meszaros restricted free agents and Redden and Kelly unrestricted free agents and already close to $35 million committed to salaries for next season it seems unlikely Ottawa can afford to sign Forsberg to a long term deal. That is unless they made the bold decision to choose Forsberg over Spezza and trade Spezza (an unlikely scenario update: Spezza just signed for 7 years so this won’t happen now). Of the teams mentioned Colorado is in the best shape to dole out a three year contract as they have lots of cap space available with Theodore’s contract ending as seasons end. Detroit and Vancouver are in pretty decent shape as well though not quite as good as Colorado. Calgary is also a possibility if they chose to commit to Forsberg and not give Conroy, Nolan and either Langkow or Huselius new contracts (all UFA’s at seasons end). Philadelphia is not though as they already have $40 million committed and will have to negotiate new contracts for Carter, Richards, Umberger, and Coburn, most of whom will be seeking raises.

So, where does that leave us? Here is how I would rank the teams in order of how likely they are to land Forsberg:

1. Colorado Avalanche
2. Detroit Red Wings
3. Ottawa Senators
4. Vancouver Canucks
5. Dallas Stars
6. Anaheim Ducks
7. Philadelphia Flyers
8. Calgary Flames
9. San Jose Sharks
10. Pittsburgh Penguins

This article has 24 Comments

  1. First of All, Spezza is signed to a 7 year, $49 Million Contract (woohoo). 2nd of all, it’s funny how ppl think Ottawa is soo handcuffed with their salaries. As of right now, Ottawa is the best looking team right beside Detroit. Also, if Forsbreg sings half way into the season, for 2 year contract worth $ 8 M, it’ll only be $ 2 million hitting the salary cap this year. Next Year the Senators have $35 447 000 locked up with:

    – Alfredsson, Heatley, Spezza, Neil, McAmmond, Folingo, Fisher, Phillips, Corvo, Volchenkov, Schubert. ( 7 forwards, 4 d-men)

    Also $ 3.7M + $ 3.167 M a year= $ 6.867 M. (If Gerber is traded before next year, Emery + Elliot’s 0.55M will = $ 3.717 M.

    Vermette Eaves Schubert and Meszaroes will all be RFA. Those salaries should be $ 4-6M.
    So then 35.447+ 3.717 (Gerber will be gone) + 6M max= 45. 164. Donovan, Kelly, Robitaille, Redden. Redden is going to be gone if he doesn’t sign for $ 5M. Donovan kelly= $ 3M. Let Robitalle walk.

    $47, 164, 000. The salary cap will go up, but Forsberg, even at $ 4 Million is going to lift us to $ 51, 164, 000.

    Then possible lines for 2008/2009-

    Heatley- Spezza- Eaves
    Vermette- Forsberg- Alfredsson
    Kelly- Fisher- Neil
    Donovan- McAmmond- Folingo

    Phillips- Volchenkov (Shutdown duo is great)
    Schubert- Meszaros (European towers of power, good chemistry together, as seen on the pp)
    Corvo- Richardson/Lee (Both will be cheap.


    * who ever said that the senators were going to be really screwed was mistaken. They still might lose 1 or 2 key players (I really hope not kelly), but otherwise, there’s always a way around. Forsberg will come to Colrodo or Ottawa. I think Ottawa, and he will settle for less $. Thats why I think he’s holding out, many teams *ottawa for 1* can benefit with signing him later on, as the cap hit will be a lot less.

  2. Also, if Forsbreg sings half way into the season, for 2 year contract worth $ 8 M, it’ll only be $ 2 million hitting the salary cap this year.

    So please tell me why Forsberg is going to sign for $4 million when Colorado or Detroit can pay him $6 million?

    Schubert is actually signed for next year.

    Spezza, Heatley, Alfredsson, Fisher, Neil, McAmmond, Foligno, Schubert, Phillips, Volchenkov, Corvo, and Emery’s contracts total about $38.25 million. Add in:

    Vermette: $1.5
    Eaves: $1
    Meszaros: $1.25
    Donovan: $550,000
    Robitaille: $550,000
    Lee: $750,000
    McGratton: $550,000

    We now sit at 44.4 for 19 players. If we assume a marginal increase in the cap to $52 million and Ottawa as they have done the past couple years doesn’t want to spend completely to the cap they have $5.5 million to spend on 2-3 more players including at least a forward and a defenseman. That doesn’t leave much to sign Kelly and Forsberg and a defenseman. In other words, it isn’t likely to happen.

    Ottawa will still have a good team but not a lot of flexibility in adding top tier players like Forsberg for several years to come.

    Colorado is in a great position as they have a very good team with almost $5 million in cap space this year and Theodore’s $5.33 million committment coming off the books. Sakic is a UFA but won’t require any more than the $6.75 he is making this year to re-sign. Same for Brunette and his $1.6 million contract. Liles, Svatos and Budaj need new contracts but they aren’t going to break the bank. Colorado can probably bring back the same team with Forsberg at $6 million and possibly even add another small piece to the puzzle. They are in excellent shape.

    Thats why I think he’s holding out, many teams *ottawa for 1* can benefit with signing him later on, as the cap hit will be a lot less.

    He is holding out because he is not yet healthy and he will likely return late November or early December which won’t be good for Ottawa’s chances.

  3. Donovan is already making almost a million. Robitaille is at 625,000. I doubt either would settle for less. Meszaros and Vermette are unlikely to settle for 1.25 and 1.5 respectively. Someone would likely try to pilfer them for 2.5 each if they reach their RFA status, which further complicates the Sens situation. My full analysis of their salary situation(if anyone cares) is at http://hockeyschlock.wordpress.com/.

    I really think Forsberg for more than just this season is really not even an afterthought for realists in Sensland.

  4. I find it interesting that you rate Dallas as highly as you do. I really don’t see them making the playoffs this year. Aside from just lacking forward talent, their best players are well past their primes. They will get to prey on the Coyotes 8 times, although the Dogs are feeding them their lunch tonight in Dallas. But in their division, LA is much improved, and Anaheim and San Jose will eventually put it together. The only other potential pushover in the West is Edmonton. I don’t think they can play better than .500 against anyone other than Edmonton and Phoenix.

  5. LOL $ 6 Million. that is a joke. That is a f**kin joke. Now Forsberg is a great player. Even if Ottawa had that much, I would never pay Forsberg more than 4-4.5. 5 is too much. What do you think he’s coming back for? Money?

    why will he come to ottawa for 4 when he can go to det or col for 6.?? U want to know why, because their the best team in the league and look like cup favorites.

    det looks fine. Thats a good fit too. Not col. But hey, do you think he wants a cup or a few million more. He’s coming back for a cup ring! If $ was the case, he would wait and sign with any team for the highest amount.

  6. Given the concerns about Forsberg’s health, I cannot see any team interested in winning a Stanley Cup who will also sign Peter to a 3 year deal. You already have to assume he’s out 15 games a year and that in another 15 games he won’t be 100% – and these things are best-case scenarios at this point.

  7. AJ, If you could make $6 million instead of $4 million, I’m pretty sure you’d take the $6 million. As a hypothetical, lets assume someone offers you 150% of your salary to do the exact same job, in a situation that has just as good a chance of success. Take whatever your salary is now, and add half of it on top… now tell me you’re uninterested in the increase. If you are uninterested, you are what is known as “insane”. Oh and just another tidbit… If I had to pick from the 3 cities mentioned, Denver, Ottawa, or Detroit, I’d pick Denver to live and work in. Ottawa’s advantage is it’s Eastern Conference placing which cuts down on travel. Overall the “sweepstakes” isn’t going to amount to much, I sincerely doubt he’s going to Ottawa, especially if Colorado gives him the security of 3 more years.

  8. If foppa is coming back for the $, then fine. Let the guy sign for $. But If I’m him, I would come back for two things.

    One you mentioned Steve, which is a great point: long term security.
    However, I also want to be with a club that looks good this year and for the next few years to come.

    Ottawa, Detroit, Colorado, are all great canadiates. Out of the three, Colorado has great rising talent, but Ottawa will be the most stable. If he wants to come to the east, its philly or Ottawa, west det or col- and to tell you the truth I strongly have the feeling he’s coming to the east. No one is going to pay him $ 6M. Copy and paste that. And if in some weird way some stupid gm does their team is going to run into trouble 2, 3 years down the road. You can’t have a injured prone guy like forsberg eating up that much of the cap.

  9. Colorado is fine to fit in forsberg?

    Colorado has Ryan Smyth, Milan Hejduk, Tyler Arnason, Scott Hanan, Karlis Skrastins, Brett Clark (new contract $ 3.5M), Jordan Leopold, and Peter Budaj- All signed for 2008 at $ 25.575 M.

    UFA’s: The have Sakic, Brunette, Hlinka, Lilies, and Sauer. Joe Sakic will get atleast! $ 6.75.

    RFA’s:(STATSNY NEXT YR! I bet Kevin Lowe is already standing beside the phone lol) Svatos, Wolski- (both looking at good raises), Richardson,

    David: Sakic is a UFA but won’t require any more than the $6.75 he is making this year to re-sign. Same for Brunette and his $1.6 million contract. (WHAT!!)

    Are you saying Brunette isn’t in for a BIG raise?

    He might be the most underrated player in the game. He had a blow-out season last year, with 83 points, good for 22 in the league. As well, Brunette has 4 straight 82 game seasons, playing 409/410 regular seasons games in the last 5 years. He produces and is HEALTHY as an oxe, and he ISN’T due for a big raise?

    All thing considered, he deserves $ 4.5-5M.

    Hlinka, and Sauer will be cheap, probably $ 1.3-1.5 together. Lilies, he’s deserves more. In the past 2 seasons, his stats are pretty impressive:

    153 GP, 28 goals, 65 assists, for 93 points. He deserves, $ 2.5-$ 2.75 (around what Joe Corvo got after his 40 pt season in LA).

    UFA’s will cost something around: $ 14M- $ 15M.
    So we’re at: $ 38.575-40.575 M

    * Even with Svatos and Wolski RFA’s, the max them and the others come to, is about $ 4M- $6M. So Forsberg can very well fit. But it’ll be interesting to see the year after how the Colorado does with Statsny and Budaj becoming RFA. But still, this team is fine financially for a while.

  10. I think the league understands exactly what Andrew Brunette is and I guarantee you that he will not get $5 million next year. He’ll be 35 when the season starts. He’s not withouts skills, but he’s a very slow skater in a league that’s only getting faster. He needs strong scorers around him to put up points.

    He’s got a long history in this league and it’s not like he hit the age of 34 and finally developed into a player. He’s the same guy he’s been for 8 years. He just happened to find the perfect situation for him and I’m sure he realizes that.

    If they pay him $3 million, it’s out of appreciation for how hard he works and fits in on the team. I doubt another team would offer that much to him.

  11. I agree with Al. Brunette is a nice player and will probably get a bit of a raise, if he asks for too much he won’t be getting it in Colorado. They have a lot of offensive talent there and Brunette isn’t a core must keep player with them. Brunette has some offensive skill but the rest of his game is nothing special. Other players with similar skillsets have failed to generate much interest at all in the free agent market (see Jason Allison). I don’t think Brunette with his skillset ages well in the NHL.

  12. If they pay him $3 million, it’s out of appreciation for how hard he works and fits in on the team. I doubt another team would offer that much to him.!, hell kevin lowe would give this guy 10. in all seriousness, he’s worth 5 AT LEAST to a lot of teams.



    Peter Forsberg’s comeback to professional hockey has seemingly taken a turn for the worse.

    According to the Globe and Mail, Forsberg left the ice at Sweden’s national team practice after an hour, saying his ankle wasn’t holding up.

    Forsberg, who is skating with the team, had hoped to be able to play in the Karjala Cup which is a four-team international tournament. Forsberg was going to use the event to see if his ankle would be able to withstand the rigors of an NHL season.

    ”I will have to go back to one of the doctors to see if there’s something I can do.” Forsberg told the Swedish media. ”I’m not going to play if it’s not working. I might as well retire.”

    The 13-year NHL veteran had been reluctant to talk about his plans to return, but was every emotional after leaving the ice: ”I’ve never been so close to the end of my career”

  14. AJ: If Brunette gets $5 million salary for next season, you get in touch with me and I’ll mail $20 to you. I’m giving you infinite odds on this bet. You don’t have to do anything but send me an email and be able to handle hearing “I told you so”.

  15. Al: Come on, don’t let him get off that easy. At least make him come back here and publicly admit that he was wrong.

    As for Forsberg, it is mixed news for several teams including Ottawa who probably couldn’t pony up the money required if Forsberg came back late November and played 2/3 of the season but if he comes back at the trade deadline for 1/3 of an annual salary it makes it a lot easier for many teams. That said, it suddenly became much less likely that he will ever play again.

    The only happy person might be Don Waddell of the Atlanta Thrashers as now there will likely be at least one extra team joining in the Marian Hossa bidding war come February.

  16. Brunette is going to take less $ to stay with Colorado, I’m not saying that. But if he had a repeat of last season, many teams would offer him $ 5M, at least that’s what he’s worth

  17. As a Sens fan, I’m relieved that the chances he joins Ottawa appear to be falling apart. I love Forsberg, but he’s a risk they don’t need to take. Besides, Forsberg in Colorado made sense from an aesthetic point of view anyway.

  18. No offense what so ever to Europeans, or Russians, or hossa (who i loved in Ottawa, and still think is a great player), BUT the only team to win the Stanley cup will be, (like its always been) a team packed full of Canadians.. maybe Americans too, but mostly Canadians!!

    Top 10 goaltender
    Puck moving Defenceman
    CANADIAN CAPTAIN, or american perhaps

    TEAM PACKED FULL OF CANADIAN TEAMS. thats the formula… maybe ottawa or det will break that this year, i doubt it.

    so hear me now, hossa- don’t need him for the playoffs, cuz he’ll disappear.

  19. “Brunette is going to take less $ to stay with Colorado, I’m not saying that. But if he had a repeat of last season, many teams would offer him $ 5M, at least that’s what he’s worth”

    Well, there’s a cop out for you. Ok, how about if he signs with Colorado for MORE than $3 million or any other team for $5 million, I’ll give you the same deal.

  20. Detroit already probed that theory wrong winnign the cup in 1998 with:


    on their roster.

  21. Wrong david! thats not what I was saying. See, you don’t need ALL Canadian guys. BUT get this, who was the captain? tell me. who was the leader of that red wings team: Stevie Y. Who was the 2nd leader, SHANAHAN, chelious. Yea, role players can be non north american, but the CAPTAIN! So you tell me, which euro captain has even won the cup? NO ONE. only Alfie was good enough to take his team to the cup final, but even then, didn’t win it.

  22. As for AL, if Brunette scores above 80 pts this season, he’ll be making more than 3. If not, he’s one generous guy to take less than 4 even.

  23. another qualifier, eh AJ? Now he has to get 80 points again before he’s worth $3 million to the Avs. You said he was worth $4-5 million. I’m telling you he won’t get that anywhere and he won’t get more than $3 million to stay with the Avs and I’m going to give you $20 if he does. All I want is an acknowledgement that you don’t know what you’re talking about when it works out that way. I’ll give you that and $20 if you’re right. When you started this, you said nothing about 80 points (I think he’ll be in the 70s this year, by the way). You game?

    This league is not just about numbers. I have watched Andrew Brunette play a lot of games including three season from my seats for Wild games. He is a useful role player. He’s got nice hands and excels on the power play where his lack of skating ability is less of an impediment. But, he’s reliant on others for his production. His best season before last was with Gaborik. Last year he had Sakic and this year he has Sakic. He’ll get points…he won’t get big dollars.

    As for the Canadian captain thing; I’m not going to say it’s complete junk, but it won’t be long before a European captain wins the Cup; probably this year. The stats are skewed a bit because there simply have been more Canadian captains than Europeans. But, winning a Cup is also something most Canadians grow up dreaming about; there IS something to be said for that.

  24. Whatever, you can try and predict all you want. Frankly I don’t care about how much money Brunette gets. With all the inflated salaries ppl hand out based on stats, it’s not a huge surprise if he got $ 4M+.

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