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Free agent Forsberg hopeful for a return but no timeline on his decision

The Hockey News

The Hockey News

As to when he will, and for which team, and on which continent? Well, that remains to be seen. The superstar centre headlines the list of remaining players in the NHL's free-agent class. But unlike most of the free agents who are scrambling to find a home before training camps open in just over two weeks, the 34-year-old Forsberg will take his time figuring out whether his surgically repaired ankles can handle the workload for a 12th NHL season.

"We're not going to get engaged with any teams in terms of any serious contract discussions until he can be sure his foot is where he wants it to be," Forsberg's agent Don Baizley told The Canadian Press on Monday. "And he's not putting a timeline on when that's going to be."

His appearance in a few charity hockey games in his native Sweden this month had people chirping on both sides of the Atlantic.

Was he ready for a return to the NHL? Or was he paving the way for a season in Sweden?

It's still too soon to tell. Most of the NHL's 30 clubs have phoned Baizley to find out what's going on with Forsberg, but the answer was the same to all of them: Save your breath, don't make an offer yet.

"Peter's decision is not imminent, that's for sure," said Baizley. "This is not something he's going to decide next week."

Forsberg earned US$5.75 million with Philadelphia and Nashville last season, when he collected 55 points (13-42) in 57 games.

Another free-agent forward still in limbo is Teemu Selanne. The 37-year-old Finn has yet to inform the Anaheim Ducks whether he'll return. While he is technically an unrestricted free agent he's indicated he would only play for the Ducks if he returns. The clock is ticking.

"Selanne has promised to let me know once he's made a decision and he hasn't yet. It's that simple," said Baizley.

Other free-agent forwards still available include Eric Lindros (who may retire), Jason Allison, Anson Carter, Mike Johnson, Jeff O'Neill, Tony Amonte, Jeff Friesen, Denis Arkhipov, Peter Bondra, Patrik Stefan, Nils Ekman, Ronald Petrovicky, Ville Nieminen, Travis Green, Jan Bulis and Adam Hall.

Danny Markov headlines the free-agent blue-liners, a list that also includes Brent Sopel, Janne Niiniima, David Tanabe, Bryan Berard and Nolan Pratt.

Markov, 31, was a plus-25 for Detroit last season. He drew serious interest from Russian clubs this summer but has decided he wants to stay in the NHL.

"He really stepped up for Detroit last year and I think teams recognize that," his agent Jay Grossman said Monday. "It's really just about finding the right situation."

Sopel, 30, had 28 points (5-23) and a plus-2 rating in 64 games with Los Angeles and Vancouver last season.

"I'm confident that he'll have a job in the near future," his agent Pat Brisson said Monday. "He's a quality NHL player. We'll find the right fit for him."

Berard, 30, has swallowed his pride and accepted a training camp invite.

"He is going to try out with the New York Islanders," his agent Tom Laidlaw confirmed Monday.

Limited to only 11 games last season, Berard is out to re-establish himself. If he stays healthy, he's still a guy that can move the puck and spearhead a power play.

"He'll go out and prove what he can do," said Laidlaw.

In goal, still available are Curtis Joseph, Robert Esche and J.S. Aubin, among others. Joseph, 40, will keep an eye on developing goaltending needs around the league.

"He's fit, he's in great condition, and he's at a stage in his career where he can wait for an opportunity and assess the opportunity when it comes along," his agent Don Meehan said Monday.


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