Why the Flyers Have Little Chance of Resigning Forsberg

Today I would like to address something that has been nagging at me since Peter Forsberg’s contract expired at the end of last season, and that is one of the fallacies surrounding the Peter Forsberg Free Agency “sweepstakes.” More specifically, the notion that the Flyers are going to resign Forsberg.First, there’s the question of whether or not he is even going to return. Personally, I think he will. Foppa is a born competitor, and I don’t see him as the kind of guy who would hang up the skates just yet. Assuming his second surgery goes well, I’d say he would be able to give at least 3 or 4 more solid years to his career. That is, of course, assuming the surgery is a success. If he still has ankle problems, we’d see him gone from the league before the playoffs even start, if he even decides to return at all.

Assuming that he does decide to return, where can he go? Let’s take Peter’s personal preferences into account. He recently told the Swedish newspaper, “Aftonbladet,” that if he does return, it will more than likely be for the Philadelphia Flyers, Nashville Predators, or Colorado Avalanche, three of his former teams. The Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators have also expressed interest. This article is going to focus on the Flyers’ bid. Let’s have a look:

Philadelphia Flyers
22-48-12, 56 points, 30th in the NHL
Available Cap Room: $1,300,000

Forsberg definitely believes that he has unfinished business in Philadelphia, and I’m sure he would love to be reunited with the city of Philadelphia and the Flyers fans (and vice versa). The Flyers are definitely much stronger this season than they were last time we saw them, adding star center Daniel Briere and defensemen Jason Smith and Kimmo Timonen, among other additions. They also have a bright future ahead with young guys like Scottie Upshall, Joffrey Lupul (assuming Edmonton was a fluke), Braydon Coburn, and Ryan Parent.

Let it be known, the Flyers will not be as bad as they were last season, and they will probably be in the running for a playoff spot. However, I don’t see them as a Stanley Cup Contender, not for another year or two. Now, let’s examine the reality of the situation:

Forsberg, if he does return, is going to be a rental player in his first season. I don’t think any team will be brave enough to offer him a long-term contract, not even one of his former venues. Teams usually “rent” players when they feel they have a significant shot at winning the Stanley cup immediately, and that the addition of the rental can be the final piece to push them over the hump. The Flyers, as improved as they are, have a very, very, very slim chance of making it to the Stanley Cup Finals this year. There’s two likely possibilities that I can see transpiring between Forsberg and Philadelphia:

1) So the Flyers sign Foppa for one year, the team improves vastly over the last season they had and even makes the playoffs before they get bounced in the first or second round. Forsberg’s contract expires and he (assuming he is healthy, because if he isn’t I think he would retire by now, making all of this pointless) jumps into the free agency market. Now that he’s returned to form, other teams are chomping at the bit to get Foppa on their squad, and the Flyers have no chance in a bidding war because of the splash they made on last season’s free agency market. Both Foppa and the Flyers part ways for the third and final time.

2) The Flyers offer Forsberg a long-term contract. Not only is this a significant gamble, because there is no guarantee that Forsberg will return to past form, but it is also very unlikely, because the Flyers simply don’t have the sort of space to give a player like Forsberg a long-term contract (or even a one-year contract, at that).

Yes, that’s right. Forsberg will, most likely, command at least 3 million dollars on the free agency market. His decision to return to the NHL is a testament to the fact that he believes that he will return to his past form; therefore, I can’t see Forsberg accepting a salary less than what he has received in the past if he believes he can perform up to par with what he has previously done.

Now, Philly has about half of the cap room needed to resign Forsberg, and the only way they can clear the rest is by moving some personnel. They would have to unload one of their 2 million-plus guys in order to take a stab at Forsberg. If they did unload anyone, I would expect it to be Denis Gauthier. Derian Hatcher, though old, was the team’s best defenseman last season, and he’ll be a big pillar of support for the rookies to learn from. Mike Rathje is on long-term injury, so moving him is pointless since his salary doesn’t count against the cap.

Considering these factors, I don’t think Philly will resign Forsberg. The Flyers have no need to rent a player since they most likely will not compete for the cup next season, even if they do make the playoffs as a lower seed. However, a return to Philadelphia is not completely out of the question for Forsberg. Assuming a contending team rents him for this season (my money’s on Colorado or Vancouver; I don’t see him playing for a rival to either of his former teams [Detroit or Ottawa]), he should be available on the free agency market again next season. By then, Philadelphia will be in position to buy out Rathje, Hatcher, and/or Gauthier, since they will all have one year left on their contract. This will free up enough cap-room for them to take a run at Forsberg, assuming he had a relatively productive first season back from surgery and is poised to return to form.

As a Flyers fan, I would love to ignore the cap, resign Forsberg for a 10 year, 99 million dollar contract, stick him back on the Gagne/Knuble line, and watch the magic happen. But I wrote this article as a realist, and I just can’t see Foppa returning to the Flyers. At least, not this season. Anyway, I think the Flyers will be okay with or without Forsberg; they have definitely improved and are only going to get better with the rising talent of their young guns. The loss of Forsberg will be a relatively small disappointment compared to the quick renaissance of hockey in Philadelphia.


9 Responses to Why the Flyers Have Little Chance of Resigning Forsberg

  1. PointMeAtTheSky says:

    Don't forget that Vancouver is a division rival of Colorado, so that counts them out too.

     But anyway, I don't know Forsberg personally, I don't know how much honour or loyalty he has, but in this world, money does talk. So does the chance to win a Stanley Cup, which is definitely something he wants. So don't be surprised to see him in a Red Wings jersey.

    I don't see Philadelphia being able to re-sign him, for pretty much the same reasons you listed.

    Nashville has a good chance to re-sign him, but I don't see them doing much more this season, they'll probably let their ownership situation stabilize, and maybe go after next years free agents.

    Colorado also has a good chance, but they have said they don't want to mess up chemistry.

    So my guess is, if he doesn't re-sign with one of his former teams, it'll be Detroit. They have 5 million left under the cap, and went to the Conference finals last year, and it seems like half their team is Swedish.

  2. leaffansareajoke says:

    I can still see it happening.  Assuming they drop Gauthier and Umber, and the cap goes up again next year, its very doable.  Last year the cap went up something like 6 million dollars.  Thats with the 5% from the NHLPA end, some stipulation in the CPA.  Even if it goes up 2 or 3 million, that would give the flyers 4-6mil to spend.  With all the RFA"s next year, it would be tough, but its still doable.

    We'll see though, i don't care whether he's on the team or not.  Next year he turns 35, i believe, so he could also be offered a contract full of bonuses (the correct term eludes me at this time), sort of like the one Shanny has with the rangers. 

    Incentives.  Too lazy to scroll up and put it in.

  3. hatterson says:

    Currently the Flyers have 41.6 mil spent on players for next year.  That is without Umberger, Carter, Richards, Coburn or Jones.  Umberger is likely to draw around 2 million in a deal, if not more.  Carter and Richards will likely be mid 1s maybe upwards of 2 and I'd expect over 1 mil for Coburn and maybe 1 or just under for Jones.

    Also, this leave out Smith's 2 mil salary.

    The Flyers won't even be able to resign all their own talent nevermind make a run at Foresberg in a year.  And they're in even worse shape in 2 years.

  4. leaffansareajoke says:

    True enough but this is the year for the young guys to earn a spot on the team for next year. 

    In my mind Umberger is gone.  Jones is gone.  Just really Richards and Carter, who will get a low salaray, but will eat up the cap none the less. 

    There is always room for a player like Forsberg.  The flyers can work magic with numbers, besides the fact that the cap will go up again next year.

    We'll see, i don't think i would want to have him back this year anyway.  When he turns 35 it'll be easy for any team to keep him.

  5. mozzy says:

    I would like them to sign Forsberg but only for a $1-2mil salary and some incentives. He would be a great addition this season; not for making a run at the cup or trying to become a contender, but just for the locker room presence and esteem of this young re-vamped team. However, it would be great if he came back at somewhat of his old self and looked liked a player who had a few more years left in his legs. Then it would be a wise signing now to have the advantage of keeping him in the future….but all this is unlikely.

    I just hope he doesn't go to Detroit. It seems like such a sell out phase of all historic players. Its as though every future hall of famer had to make a stop in Detroit at some point during their career….Come back to Philly Foppa!

  6. Flyers_Fan_In_LA says:

    He has kept his place in Philly the last time I checked as he lives in the same building as my cousin.

    I heard that the trade at the deadline to Nashville left Mr. Snider a little sour. This could factor into letting Foppa being someone else’s problem.

    I don’t think money is the issue. They can sign him for 2 years and back load it. They will have to dump someone however. Rathje makes the most sense. Umberger could get sent to a team looking to get younger. PLUS there will be injuries.

    More over, I don’t think its about money for Forsberg. Look at what Kariya played for in COL. Not much because he wanted to win. Look at it this way – Forsberg was pre-paid on this “front loaded” deal in Philly.

    Lastly, I don’t think they need him. Salane would be better and there the whole year. Forsberg is a great player but he is also a distraction at times with the injuries. They have younger and better players now and need to gel.

  7. kamullia says:

    Congratulations on a well thought out article, with very valid points being made. Personally, I am unsure that Foppa will overcome the physical issues, but it is clear that he wants to come back, otherwise he would not be spending all this time with doctors, therapists, and the like. With whom, and whether he will be able to avoid further injury is certainly unclear.

    However, I know that Foppa was a bit sour of having been part of Colorado’s last Cup but not having played a significant part in the playoffs to help them win it. I also feel a return to Colorado would be good for him in many ways, or at least in more ways than any other destination I can think of. I know he is a competitor and would like to be part of the entire run, both in the regular season and playoffs, but I think the best situation for Forsberg would be to stay put…for now.

    I think if he would keep on rehabilitating, and give himself more time, things can only improve…and if they do not, then no point in playing again. Not just that, but in the specific scenario of a delayed return to Colorado, it might be almost like a made-for-television story. Foppa keeps rehabilitating, working hard, watching the team play and place themselves as contenders…and come, let’s say February, he signs back with Colorado. With minimal effect to their cap situation, a good chance for a cup, a return to a city that loved him, and surely an emotionally uplifting return overall for everyone involved.

    But even if not for Colorado, I feel he should just stay out until a while into the season and that will be as beneficial to him as he would be beneficial to the team he joins. This way more than likely he would enter the playoffs rested and free or injury.

  8. kamullia says:

    I have heard rumors there was animosity between Foppa and the Flyers when he was traded, but I have never heard of anyone substantiating such rumors. What have you heard happened between Snider and Forsberg? I actually heard a rumor he had a heated argument with the GM when he left.

  9. nonhl2005 says:

    This is a tailor made reality TV show right here. Versus should jump on this with the blessing of the NHL and Foppa. Banyan Productions signs Peter to follow him around for a few months to watch him rehab and get into playing shape. Follow him as he gets into game shape and culminates with his signing and following his HOME actions the rest of the season for what could be a very good cup run for what ever team he signs with. You get the NHL out in the public eye without monkeying around with the game itself, Peter gets some camera time, which the ladies will like and the rest of the world gets to see the personal side of a very likeable NHL all-star. Hell if Hogan can do it why not "Peter the Great"? I really think this could be a boost for the NHL.

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