The Vancouver Canucks are in the sweepstakes for the services of Super Swede Peter Forsberg.
Whatever the price a team plays for the most sought-after rent-a-player is hardly relevant. Picking up a free agent of his ilk within the last two months of regular season means not having to give up any assets, especially draft picks, or lose a great deal of room within the salary cap.
Forsberg won't be a long-term prospect for any team that takes the chance. He played 82 games in his sophomore season with the Colorado Avalanche and added another 22 games in the 1996 Stanley Cup playoffs, but has not played so many games in a season since. He could be the key to a Cup run for a team needing that last piece of the puzzle this spring. Certainly that's what the Nashville Predators thought last year when they made a blockbuster deal with the Philadelphia Flyers. Ostensibly he would be ready to go at full speed and in full health, with no desire to get on a golf course anytime soon (he owns one in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden).
A reunion with fellow "O-vik" residents Markus Naslund and the Sedin twins seems like a dream come true for Canucks fans. Or maybe Forsberg could replace Naslund, whose lacklustre performance this season as an imminent free agent means his days as Canucks captain will end sooner than later. But the Flyers are said to have the inside track on Forsberg.
Even if the Canucks were to pick up Forsberg to solve their scoring conundrum, it's the deteriorating defence that is testing head coach Alain Vigneault's patience. It was healthy in October, but has not been since. It's so bad, that Roberto Luongo could be the Canucks' most-seasoned veteran behind the blue line tonight in Dallas.
The Canucks have Kevin Bieksa, Lucas Krajicek and Willie Mitchell on injured reserve. Aaron Miller took a shot to the foot in Friday's loss at Florida. Sami Salo is nursing a groin strain. Mattias Ohlund returned to Vancouver yesterday for "personal reasons," and it's not known whether he'll find his way back to Dallas Fort Worth airport.
If none of the walking wounded are able to play hurt tonight, then Mike Weaver and Alexander Edler could be the Canucks' blue line generals with the combo of Luc Bourdon and Nathan McIver to spell them off while reinforcements are shipped from Winnipeg. Checking forwards Brad Isbister and Byron Ritchie could be forced into a back-line role.
What this highlights is a lack of depth on the farm, and it's a result of mortgaging the future by dealing away draft picks in desperation.
Things aren't going to improve much this summer. The Canucks don't have picks in the second or fourth rounds in 2008. The Los Angeles Kings have those after sending defenceman Brent Sopel north before the deadline last year.