The Predators solidified their run for a Stanley Cup title Thursday by acquiring star forward Peter Forsberg from the Philadelphia Flyers for Scottie Upshall, Ryan Parent, and first-and third-round draft picks in 2007.
Forsberg had to waive his no-trade clause to allow the move to happen.
“I’m a little shocked,” Forsberg said. “I could not commit to another year because I don’t know what’s going to happen.
“I felt like I was being fair to give up the no-trade clause and they get something for me. It kind of worked out.”
The trade came a day after a final meeting between Forsberg and Philadelphia GM Paul Holmgren in which once again it’s believed the Flyers asked him whether he would sign a contract extension. Forsberg, according to a source, once again said he’d rather wait until this summer before deciding whether he wanted to sign another contract. That’s when Holmgren decided he needed to move him in order to get something in return.
“Peter could not commit to signing an extension because of his uncertainty. Therefore, we had to do what was best for the future of the team,” said Flyers chairman Ed Snider in a statement.
“Peter is a tremendous player and person. I would like to thank him for all that he did for this franchise.”
Forsberg has acknowledged he has thought about retiring at season’s end due to painful condition that makes his right foot feel crooked in his skate. He had off-season surgery to repair loose ligaments in his right ankle, but the operation has made little difference.
“I’m going to evaluate this summer how I feel and if I’m going to continue to play,” he said.
While Forsberg had long maintained his first priority was to re-sign with Philadelphia, contenders were actively asking the Flyers about his availability.
“When Peter Forsberg became available, to me he’s the ultimate playoff player,” said Predators general manager David Poile on a conference call. “This is a huge deal for our franchise.
“It sends a clear message to our community that we’re aiming to be the best that we can be.”
The 33-year-old Swedish superstar will become an unrestricted free agent July 1. He was playing out the final months of a two-year US$11.5-million contract he signed after leaving Colorado.
Poile, asked about whether he sought assurance that Forsberg would re-sign said “absolutely not. I have no assurances of that, nor did I ever seek that.”
“He strengthens our club up the middle and will provide another battle-tested, veteran voice. Adding a player of this calibre also sends a strong message to our fans that the Nashville Predators are prepared to compete at the highest level.”
Forsberg had 11 goals and 29 assists in 40 games for the Flyers, his second season with Philadelphia after 10 years with Quebec and Colorado.
Forsberg recorded 30 goals and 86 assists for 116 points in 100 regular-season games with Philadelphia. The Flyers signed him as a free agent Aug. 3, 2005.
Forsberg has won two Stanley Cup championships with Colorado as well as two Olympic gold medals with Sweden (1994 and 2006).
Upshall, 23, from Fort McMurray, Alta., had two goals and an assist in 14 games with the Predators. He missed 22 games from Nov. 16 through Jan. 29 due to a groin strain sustained at Columbus on Nov. 15.
The left-winger has 11 goals and 18 assists in 77 career regular season games over parts of four NHL seasons. He was drafted by the Predators in the first round (sixth overall) of the 2002 NHL Entry Draft.
Parent, 19, a six-foot-two defenceman was Nashville’s first-round pick from the OHL’s Guelph Storm in the 2005 NHL Entry Draft. He has three goals, six assists and 62 penalty minutes in 32 games for the Storm this season.
The Prince Albert, Sask. native was a member of the Canadian junior squad that won the gold medal at the 2006 and 2007 World Junior Hockey Championships.
“We paid a lot,” Poile said. “But we did it because we believed it gave us that much of a better chance to compete for the Stanley Cup.”
Forsberg had a meeting with Flyers chairman Ed Snider on Sunday to discuss his future, but declined to comment the next day about the specifics of the meeting and refused to say whether he asked to be traded.
He had said that he didn’t want to address his future until he solved the issue with his right foot.
Forsberg has visited with doctors around the globe to find out why his foot hasn’t felt right in his skate, the health issue mostly responsible for keeping him out 16 games this season.
But since returning from an all-star break, Forsberg has three goals and nine assists in nine games.
Poile didn’t seem concerned about Forsberg’s health.
“I think everybody would acknowledge that Peter seemed more comfortable over the last few weeks with his skate,” said Poile.
Forsberg was a late scratch for Philadelphia’s 4-2 loss to Toronto on Thursday night. The NHL-worst Flyers are 0-13-3 without Forsberg in the lineup this season.
On Monday night, Forsberg scored the go-ahead goal in the third period of the Flyers’ 6-1 win over the Detroit Red Wings.
The NHL trading deadline is Feb. 27.