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Cullen: Forsberg's return presents rare opportunity

Scott Cullen
2/7/2011 1:47:46 PM
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After years of on-again, off-again attempts at a comeback, Peter Forsberg has signed with the Colorado Avalanche and will see his first NHL action since 2008.

It's easy to see the negatives when a 37-year-old, who hasn't played more than 60 games in a season since 2002-2003, tries to recapture his glory in the greatest league in the world, but I lean towards expecting a positive outcome.

Years of foot injuries make Forsberg a risky addition, to be sure, because all it could take is one tweak, one awkward twist and all of his progress could be for naught.

But, if we accept that injury is always going to be a major risk that could undermine this effort, it's worth at least taking a moment to assume that Forsberg can remain relatively healthy and maybe play 25 of Colorado's remaining 30 games.

Forsberg joins an Avalanche team that is four points out of a playoff spot and missing a couple of scoring forwards. 

Peter Mueller, who has recently returned to practice, has been out all year after suffering another concussion in the preseason. 

Considering his production after he was acquired from Phoenix at the trade deadline last year (20 points in 15 games), Mueller's return would certainly give the Avs a boost in their top six forwards.

Tomas Fleischmann had been a productive addition (21 points in 22 games) since coming over from Washington, but then suffered a pulmonary embolism, ending his season.

As it is right now, though, the Avs have Kevin Porter and David Jones skating in top six roles.  While both can be solid players -- Jones ranks fourth on the team with 16 goals -- it's also entirely possible to upgrade those spots.

Leaving Mueller out of the equation for the time being, given the complexities of concussion recovery, it would seem easy enough for Forsberg to bump Porter (four points in his last 17 games) from the top six, which would both provide Forsberg ample opportunity to score and, playing left wing, it might be easier than trying to take on the full-ice responsibilities that he was typically responsible for in his prime as a centre.

So, while it's asking a lot for Forsberg to return and become an impact player in the NHL again, isn't it at least possible that a player who averaged 1.25 points per game in the first 706 games of his NHL career has enough skill and savvy that he can make up for the lost production of Tomas Fleischmann?

As long as Forsberg is in the lineup, he figures to make his linemates better; that should mean more scoring opportunities for either Paul Stastny or Matt Duchene down the middle and either Milan Hejduk, Chris Stewart or Jones on the wing.

For fantasy owners, it's so unusual to have access to a player with point-per-game potential on the waiver wire at this point in the season that Forsberg's upside is well worth using top waiver priority or a significant portion of your remaining waiver budget.  The cynic will note that he's more even more valuable if your league has an IR spot that you can stash him if his foot problems return.

Scott Cullen can be reached at Scott.Cullen@ctv.ca and followed on Twitter at http://twitter.com/tsnscottcullen. For more, check out TSN Fantasy on Facebook.

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