Would the addition of Peter Forsberg have catapulted the Philadelphia Flyers to even greater heights this season?
The thought of inserting the five-time NHL All-Star and two-time Stanley Cup champion into the lineup certainly begs the question. In fact, it almost happened.
Forsberg recently told the Swedish newspaper Expressen that he was offered a contract by Flyers General Manager Paul Holmgren to join the team on March 2. Forsberg, who stands ninth all-time in career points-per-game (1.254) and fourth all-time in career assists per game (0.901) in 13 NHL seasons, declined for fear his injuries would limit his ability on the big stage at this point in his career.
"Yeah, it's true," Forsberg told Expressen of Holmgren's desire to re-sign the 1995 Calder Trophy recipient. "But I felt that I wasn't in good enough shape to go."
The Flyers reached the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1997 in 2010, dropping a six-game series to the Chicago Blackhawks. Forsberg, 36, has not played in the NHL since appearing in nine games with the Colorado Avalanche in 2007-08, when he scored 14 points and a plus-7 rating.
In 706 regular season games, Forsberg has totaled 249 goals, 636 assist, 887 points and a plus-242 rating. He's participated in 151 playoff games, scoring 64 goals, 107 assists and a plus-54 rating.
For as good as he is, Forsberg is one of the most injury-plagued players of this era. In seven seasons, Forsberg has failed to play 90 percent of his team's games due to injury. A recurring foot injury limited him to just 23 games this past year with MODO of the Swedish Elite League, where he did score 11 goals, 30 points and plus-11 rating.
Almost five years ago, the Flyers signed Forsberg in an attempt to end a Stanley Cup drought. But during his two-year run, he couldn't deliver. Still, Forsberg did score 30 goals, 115 points and a plus-23 rating in 100 games with the Flyers. He also had 4 goals and 8 points in 6 postseason games in 2006, when Philadelphia dropped a six-game series to the Buffalo Sabres in the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals.
Forsberg did notch one assist in four games for Team Sweden at the 2010 Olympics in Vancouver and carried Sweden's flag during the Opening Ceremonies. He won a gold medal playing for his country at the Games in 1992 and '98. The 2003 Hart Trophy winner, who won two Stanley Cups with the Avalanche, would have enjoyed another run with the Flyers.
"Obviously it would've been cool since I know so many of those guys from my time with the team," Forsberg told Expressen.
In the same breath, Forsberg wasn't quite ready to discuss his future in the NHL.
"It's way too early to start speculating about teams when I still don't even know if I can come back and play hockey again," Forsberg said.