Friday, October 26, 2007

Forsberg update: Is it even realistic?

After Ben's post about how unreliable the reports of Peter Forsberg's increasing interest in the Ottawa Senators, I'm going to talk about how unlikely it is that he will sign in Ottawa, regardless of whether or not he wants to. Reports are that Forsberg is seeking a three-year deal worth $5M a year. Aside from the fact that it would be a huge gamble to sign a player with chronic injury problems to such a hefty contract, there's no way of knowing whether or not this is the dominant Peter Forsberg of old, or just and old Peter Forsberg.

In essence, it all boils down to the realities of the salary cap. While it's true that we don't know what exactly the cap number will be for 2008-09, this much we do know: That the Sens already have $35.789M spent in contracts on 13 players, leaving between $15-17M to spend on another 9 players, plus buffer room to account for injuries, callups, and possible trades.

And that nearly $36M doesn't include the following players: Jason Spezza (between $6.5-7.5M a year), Chris Kelly ($1.5-2.5M per year), Patrick Eaves ($1-1.5M per year), Shean Donovan ($1M per year), Wade Redden (who knows... $3.5, if we're lucky), and Andrej Meszaros ($1.5-2.5M per year). Even if you take the lowest of those numbers, it leaves a number of $50.789M on 19 players.

It's a fact that whether or not Forsberg is brought in we will lose players. We're lucky this team has stayed a consistent as it has in recent years. The problem with those six players above is that they've all got something important. Spezza might give away the puck a lot, but you can bet there are 29 teams hoping Ottawa waits so that they can issue an offer sheet. Kelly is a third-liner, and it's true that $1.5M is a lot for that role, but he's so damned good at killing penalties and he seems like a natural leader, so it'd be smart to keep him around. Donovan isn't irreplaceable, but he plays smart and isn't too expensive (and he might take a home-town discount). Redden is the city's whipping boy, but he's still a good defenceman who eats a lot of minutes; who can step up and fill that void? Finally, Meszaros has a pretty good market value because of his potential, but do we want to let that go?

It is inevitable that someone will have to be traded. Two first-string goalies is a luxury we will not be able to afford next year, so either Martin Gerber or Ray Emery will have to be traded. There's a possibility for some movement on the blue line, too. Were Redden to agree to a trade, I'm sure he could move, but if not Joe Corvo is making some good coin for a number-five defenceman, even if he is an offensive specialist.

If the Sens were to sign Forsberg, it would give two bona fide scoring lines and offer that depth that has been so important. But it would cost the depth that gives Ottawa the ability to roll four lines against even the league's best. I guess Bryan Murray will have to decide what is more important.
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