The Swedish Smoke Screen
With Forsberg attempting a return after yet another ankle/foot surgery, the rumors are once again flying about which NHL team might snatch him up at the trade deadline. The usual suspects—Colorado and Philadelphia—make their appearances on the list. But we all know it’s just a pipe dream: Foppa isn’t healthy enough to play, and Philly definitely doesn’t have the cap space.
Then, immediately before the All-Star break, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren informs the media that he has indeed spoken with the Foppa camp regarding a return stint in Philadelphia. His comments launched a flurry of conversations from the journalists and the blogging heads and the chat room boards. How could Homer possibly want an over-the-hill, literally-can’t-stay-on-his-feet, we-only-wish-he-actually-were-a-shadow-of-his-Avalanche-self player when the Flyers can’t even afford the active players already on the payroll?
Allow me to remind everyone that managing a hockey roster is the art of deception. In order to make a trade that no one sees coming, you have to keep their eyes fixed on something else.
Holmgren has to move money before he can put Danny Briere back into the lineup. The problem in executing that trade is manifold. Teams, knowing that the Flyers are against the cap, are going to exact the maximum pound of flesh before surrendering any players.
Briere’s questionable health complicates matters. If Holmgren sacrifices a player and Briere does not return to the lineup, that leaves the Flyers with a gaping offensive hole going into the playoffs.
So why did Holmgren announce before the All-Star break that he had spoken with Forsberg & Co.? Distraction. Everyone’s so busy arguing over the injured star that we might forget to mention a few active NHLers. Like Luca Sbisa, who’s been scratched for the last four games. Or Mike Knuble, who’s a veteran forward slated to be a UFA on July 1. Or Joffrey Lupul, who could be the one truly expendable top six guy wearing the Orange and Black right now. Or Scottie Upshall, who just happens to have the right salary number for this situation.
We’re also not worrying about who Holmgren might actually be shopping for. Jay Bouwmeester, for example.
Handing the No. 21 back to the Forsberg may only be a pipe dream, but it’s a very convenient one for GM Paul Holmgren right now. Fingers crossed that Foppa doesn’t lose his footing before the Flyers have a Briere solution . . .