Positive sign for Ottawa

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Sun Media

, Last Updated: 12:53 PM ET

HUNTSVILLE -- The Senators are at the top of Peter Forsberg's wish list.

Two NHL sources told the Sun yesterday the Colorado Avalanche and Senators are among the unrestricted free agent centre's top choices as a final destination.

While the Avs are considered the top contender because of Forsberg's history with the franchise -- he played with the Quebec Nordiques/Avalanche for 10 seasons early in his career -- the sources said Ottawa is held in high regard by the Swedish star, who has been skating with MoDo of the Swedish Elite League as he prepares for a return to the NHL.

It's believed the Detroit Red Wings, Vancouver Canucks and Philadelphia Flyers also have a shot.

Sources say Forsberg has told people close to him that when he returns to the NHL he wants a shot at winning a Stanley Cup and that's why the Senators fit the bill.

The oft-injured Forsberg is feeling good and might make a decision on his future by Nov. 15.

"He just has to decide if he wants to go East or West," said an NHL executive.

"I believe he has an affinity for Colorado because of what he's accomplished there, but the Senators are in the mix."

Signing Forsberg might be tougher than just getting him to put his pen on a contract.

The Senators have spent approximately $48.5 million (all terms US) in salary after signing centre Randy Robitaille last week.

There's a strong belief Forsberg would want a three-year contract worth roughly $5 million per season.

The indication is Senators GM Bryan Murray has told agent Don Baizley he's willing to pay approximately $3 million this season, but might not want to be tied into a long-term contract without having re-signed Jason Spezza.

The Avs have cap room as they're only tied to $45 million, while the Wings' payroll is $42 million.

The Wings, however, may not be able to convince Forsberg to sign because of their long-standing rivalry with Colorado, which is something he might not be able to put behind him.

Some might wonder why so many teams are salivating to get Forsberg.

He had his share of difficulties with the Flyers and played a limited amount of time before being shipped to the Nashville Predators before the trade deadline.

He's coming off foot and groin surgeries and there may be teams that think he's a huge risk.

But at least one well-respected Swedish NHLer knows why Forsberg is in such high demand.

"He's a winner," Leafs captain Mats Sundin told Sun Media's Mike Zeisberger yesterday in Toronto.

"He has won at every level, whether it be Stanley Cups or an Olympic gold medal. Any time you can bring those qualities on the ice and into the dressing room, it's big."

Murray has asked Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson to pick up the phone at some point and give Forsberg a call to convince him to make his choice Ottawa.

You can guarantee Colorado's Joe Sakic, Vancouver's Markus Naslund and Detroit's Nicklas Lidstrom are getting similar requests from their respective GMs.

Asked about the possibility of Forsberg coming to the Leafs' archrival, Sundin didn't miss a beat.

"I haven't talked to (Forsberg), but if I do, I'll tell him only to come to us," said Sundin with a big laugh.


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