Beware of NHL's Frankenstein

ERIN NICKS

, Last Updated: 8:26 AM ET

It's that time of year again. Halloween is nearly here, and while you may not realize it, the NHL offers plenty of fright for your hockey-loving buck.

Blood-covered goons, the undead masquerading as a 45-year-old defenceman in Detroit, and have you noticed how much Pittsburgh's Colby Armstrong looks like Sesame Street's Count Von Count?

There's your everyday horror as well -- say the name "Bryan McCabe" to a Leafs fan lately, and it's bound to cause an ear-splitting scream.

The NHL is also home to a Frankenstein -- a player who's been rebuilt countless times, yet continues to haunt with his frightful skill, nail-biting price tag and stomach-turning risk of injury.

That Frankenstein is Peter Forsberg.

Despite representing a roll of the dice, Forsberg remains one of the NHL's hottest commodities and the reasons are obvious: The guy rakes in the goods. In fact, if he wore all his medals simultaneously, he'd look like he was paying homage to hip-hop accessorizing, circa 1983.

Throw in two Stanley Cups, an Art Ross, a Hart and a Calder -- he's undoubtedly put a few silversmiths' progenies through college.

Forsberg's on-ice presence is a staunch retort to any team accused of lacking competitive credibility. For those already possessing it, the stakes are even higher and the significance far greater.

IRONIC DISCUSSION

Such is the case with the Senators. Forsberg's name has been connected with the franchise recently and if you are to believe rumours, the 34-year-old considers Ottawa high on his list of potential suitors.

Forsberg may bring panache to the Sens, as well as the "championship mentality" that many love to obsess about. But he could also bring a heavy dose of irony .

The whole discussion surrounding the five-time all-star might have a modicum of relevance if he were badly required in the capital.

If anything, the talk has created an irrelevant issue in the midst of smooth sailing. A strong start (8-1 prior to last night's game) combined with a mostly healthy lineup doesn't scream for the addition of a certain Swede.

There's also something contradictory about bolstering your lineup in preparation for a potential injury down the road with a free agent who's notorious for his fragility.

If the whispers are true, and Forsberg is seeking an extended stay with one team (rumoured to be in the three-year, $5-million-a-season range), it likely would come at the expense of one or more significant pieces.

Wade Redden and Chris Kelly are both potential unrestricted free agents in 2008, while Antoine Vermette, Andrej Meszaros and Jason Spezza are heading toward restricted free agency.

And if Forsberg can be convinced to go the rent-a-player route, there's still not a tonne of incentive. After all the fanfare that followed him to Nashville last season, Peter The Great was barely perceptible, largely due to his health.

WRIST, BACK, GROIN ...

In 57 games split between the Flyers and Predators, here's his quick medical breakdown: Wrist injury, back injury, flu, foot injury, concussion, groin injury and finally, one artfully vague "upper-body" injury for good measure.

Can a healthy Forsberg contribute? There's no doubt he can.

But is Ottawa truly in need of his services?

Scoring hasn't been an issue and the team already has one Swedish leader who handles the reins with proven effectiveness.

The star centre would just be another (albeit talented) body fighting for pucks and ice time. Anyone who remembers the days of the pre-lockout New York Rangers should recall how such a situation can deteriorate.

The risk of putting Forsberg in a Senators sweater outweighs the reward. It's a revelation that shouldn't haunt the team.


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