Earlier today, it was announced that Peter Forsberg will be rejoining the Colorado Avalanche sometime during their upcoming road trip (they play four games next week, from Monday to Saturday).
It is a signing that could have a major impact on the Western Conference playoff race. Colorado has lost three in a row and five of their last six; they haven’t strung consecutive regulation wins together since mid-December. as a result, they find themselves 12th in the Western Conference and four points back of Los Angeles for the final playoff position. They’re one part of an extremely fluid situation in the West; only nine points separate fourth from 14th.
It’s the sort of situation that could be affected in a major way by a single impact player.
Of course, there is the possibility that Forsberg isn’t an impact player. After all, his injury history is well documented, he’s 37 years old, and he’s played just 26 games over the last two seasons – not one of them in the National Hockey League. How good can he be?
Fortunately, we have a tool that can give us an idea of what to expect. Gabriel Desjardins has tracked the average performance of players jumping to and from the NHL to other leagues around the world, including the Swedish Elite League. Based on what Forsberg has done over the last two seasons, what can we expect from him (if he’s healthy) over the final 30 games of this season? The following chart shows what his SEL numbers project as:
This fits with Forsberg’s performance over his last two NHL seasons, where he recorded 69 points over 66 games. If i were wagering, that’s the range I’d guess his performance falls into.
If Forsberg can manage to generate offence at a point-per-game level, he’ll be one of the most effective forwards on the Avalanche roster. No current forward has met the point-per-game mark, although a few (Milan Hejduk, Chris Stewart, Tomas Fleischmann) are just under it.
It isn’t clear precisely where Forsberg will play, although given the depth at centre the Avalanche possess it would make sense for him to line up on the wing, as he did in his last, brief stint with the team. That would allow the Avalanche to leave Matt Duchene and Paul Stastny to centre the top two lines.
If he’s healthy, he’s going to make a considerable difference.