The Nashville Predators have won the Peter Forsberg sweepstakes.
The intense trade winds surrounding the veteran centreman were abutted on Thursday, when Forsberg was dealt prior to the Flyers' game against the Toronto Maple Leafs for promising youngsters Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent and a first- and a third-round draft pick.
Forsberg is expected in the Predators' lineup tomorrow night in St. Louis against the Blues.
It's not so much what the Philadelphia Flyers received in dealing Forsberg, but what general manager Paul Holmgren can do next in the days leading up to the Feb. 27 NHL trade deadline that matters most.
And if the words uttered by Flyers' chairman Ed Snider during the second intermission of the Flyers 4-2 loss to the Leafs ring true, then the Flyers organization is in trouble for the foreseeable future.
Snider was asked if he felt that without Forsberg, the Flyers could now be considered to be in a "rebuilding mode." The man who helped bring the NHL to Philadelphia shocked more than a few in attendance with his response, "No...we don't know what rebuilding is" and despite losing a player of Forsberg's stature, "the (2006-07) season is not over."
And therein lies the problem.
Snider feels that absent Forsberg, the Flyers will still attract the interest of Tier I free-agents such as Scott Gomez, Daniel Briere or Chris Drury.
While he may not publicly admit it, Snider sees plenty of empty, red seats in the lower bowl of the Wachovia Centre, so the more of Ed's Kool-Aid he can serve up the sooner he can rectify that problem.
Yet according to one former NHL general manager who was in attendance at the Flyers-Leafs tilt, the Flyers should look to rebuild the team, not for a short-term, quick Stanley Cup run (remember, Adam Oates) but instead, look to rebuild long-term.
That concept has been largely ignored throughout the 40-year-history of the Flyers, but with approximately $25 million USD to spend and a bevy of draft picks, Snider and Holmgren are in a unique position to assemble a dressing room capable of playing quality hockey in May and June.
It began with their heist of the Predators organisation.
In return for Forsberg, the Flyers received a pair of former Nashville first-round draft picks (forward Scottie Upshall and defenceman Ryan Parent), along with a first-round and third-round selection in the 2007 NHL Entry Draft.
The 6-0, 197-pound winger has registered two goals and three points in 14 games with the Predators this season, although he injured his groin in a Nov. 16, 2006 contest and missed the next 30 games. The 23-year-old Upshall was taken with Nashville's first-round pick (sixth overall) in the 2002 NHL Draft and is scheduled to earn $900,000 USD this season.
"Upshall is a gritty, hard-working competitor who has good wheels and will fit right in (with the Flyers)," said Leafs head coach Paul Maurice.
Splitting the 2005-06 season between Nashville and their AHL-affiliate Milwaukee Admirals, Upshall tallied 25 goals and 57 points in 71 total games.
Parent was the Predators first-round selection in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft (18th overall) and appeared in 10 games during the 2006 Calder Cup playoffs with the Admirals. During the 2006-07 season, Parent tallied three goals and nine points in 32 games with Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League (OHL).
"Look what (Parent) did in the World Junior Championships this year," commented Maurice.
Parent helped shut-down Evgeni Malkin, and according to Maurice, is "a great young defenceman with great character, and they're hard to come by."
So Mr. Snider beware...all that glitters is not gold.
Look no further than the Boston Bruins, who employed a similar mindset to yours and signed free-agent defenceman Zdeno Chara, and they're still no closer to the playoffs than they were a year ago.
David Unkle can be reached at: email@example.com The NHL trading deadline is Feb. 27.
--with files from the Canadian Press