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Another Hockey Link - February 13, 2011

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TSN - Cullen: Forsberg's Return Presents Rare Opportunity - by Scott Cullen

After weeks of anticipation, primarily from the media, Peter Forsberg officially signed a one-year/$1 million dollar contract with the Colorado Avalanche. He had been practicing with the team since late January, and thus he was close to game shape at the time of his signing. But his season debut was delayed because of immigration issues; he had to leave the United States to obtain his work visa. Finally, Forsberg took to the ice on Friday in Columbus, his first NHL action since the 2007-08 season.

So what does this all mean to us, the owners and general managers of our all-important fantasy hockey teams? Scott acknowledges Foppa's chronic foot and ankle problems. He acknowledges that the future hall-of-famer has not played in more than 60 games since the 2002-03 season (quickly...who won the Stanley Cup back then? No googling, please!). But he also acknowledges that Peter Mueller's concussion and Tomas Fleischmann's season-ending blood-clotting ailment have left the Avalanche thin at forward. With David Jones and Kevin Porter now forced to skate in top six roles, certainly, according to Scott, a questionable Forsberg is an "upgrade" over both.

But unfortunately, Scott falls short in his assumptions, which are little more than blind leaps of faith. For instance, Scott asserts, "If we accept that injury is always going to be a major risk that could undermine [his] effort, it's worth at least taking a moment to assume that Forsberg can remain relatively healthy and maybe play 25 of Colorado's remaining 30 games." Huh? Granted, Foppa skated in 23 games for Modo Hockey Ornskoldsvik in Sweden last year. But in the past four years he has played in a total of only 52 regular season games. To blithely assume that he will now be able to play in 25 of 30 remaining NHL games is well.......

Let's take a brief walk down memory lane, thanks to Rotowire, to determine Forsberg's durability:

March 8, 2008 - Forsberg missed Sunday's game with a groin injury sustained in Saturday’s 3-1 win over Dallas, and is listed as day-to-day.
March 10, 2008 - Forsberg (groin) isn't expected to be sidelined for too long but may not be ready to play on Tuesday.
March 11, 2008 - Forsberg (groin) will likely test his groin out at the morning skate before deciding on his status for Tuesday night, and later that day, Forsberg (groin) will not play on Tuesday and remains day-to-day.
March 13, 2008 - Forsberg (groin) will not play on Tuesday and remains day-to-day, and later that day, Forsberg (groin) will not play Thursday night.
March 14, 2008 - Forsberg (groin) was able to practice on Friday. That's the good news, the bad being that he's still doubtful for the Avs' tilt against the Devils on Saturday.
March 16, 2008 - Forsberg (groin) was unable to play on Saturday but did manage to skate before the game.
March 20, 2008 - Forsberg (groin) didn't practice on Wednesday and is listed as probable for Thursday's game, and later that day, Forsberg (groin) did not play Thursday night against Calgary.
March 22, 2008 -Forsberg (groin) practiced on Friday but is still listed as questionable for Saturday, and later Forsberg (groin) did not play Saturday in the loss to Edmonton.

Scroll through Rotowire's last few years of Fosberg's playing history, and you will find its lietmotif to be that he was able to practice, but he did not play. Unless Foppa's at 100-percent, do not expect to see him at game time. It is enough of a headache to roster a player like this in a daily league. In a weekly league, it is downright untenable.

Scott asks, "So, while it's asking a lot for Forsberg to return and become an impact player in the NHL again, isn't it at least possible that a player who averaged 1.25 points per game in the first 706 games of his NHL career has enough skill and savvy that he can make up for the lost production of Tomas Fleischmann?" First of all, Fleischmann had 21 points (8 goals and 13 assists) in 22 games with Colorado before his season ended. Forsberg has zero points and is minus-four in his first two games back. So yes, while it's possible, it won't be easy. Second, other than his truncated 2007-08 season where he had 14 points (1 goal and 13 assists) in 9 regular season games, Foppa has not averaged a point-per-game since the 2005-06 season.

Scott concludes his article with this:

"For fantasy owners, it's so unusual to have access to a player with point-per-game potential on the waiver wire at this point in the season that Forsberg's upside is well worth using top waiver priority or a significant portion of your remaining waiver budget. The cynic will note that he's more even more [sic] valuable if your league has an IR spot that you can stash him if his foot problems return."

Even if an IR spot was available, I would not roster Forsberg at this time for the aforementioned reasons. Scott, please, I ask you, if you were in a weekly money league (we at FHS, of course, would never advocate such a thing) would you truly use a significant portion of your remaining FAAB on Forsberg? If so, please sign me up for your league next year.