If Canucks’ fans were disappointed a week ago when Peter Forsberg said a return to the NHL this season was “unlikely”, yesterday must have been a real kick in the gut. Not only is Forsberg back on North American ice, he’s back with division rival Colorado, the team the Canucks face four times in their last 20 games.
Vancouver GM Dave Nonis did his best to lure Forsberg to the West Coast by making the long flight to Sweden nearly nine months ago, but everyone knew it was a long shot at best.
The Avs are currently on the outside looking in as far as the playoffs go, but Joel Quenneville’s crew is one to be feared down the stretch. Joe Sakic and Paul Stastny are just back from injury and will team with Forsberg to give the Avalanche the deepest cache of centres in the West barring a change of position for any one of the aforementioned trio.
If Jose Theodore can continue to give the Avs decent goaltending over the next few weeks (and that’s a big if), Colorado has a legitimate shot at getting back to the postseason after a rare miss last year.
•The next few hours may determine how Canucks’ fans evaluate Nonis’ performance this season. At the time of writing this article, the Canucks had still not acquired the top six forward that has been on their wish list since being punted from the playoffs last season.
Just days after being ousted by Anaheim, Nonis said the team needed improvements in three areas: scoring, speed and grit. He addressed team speed by adding Ryan Shannon and promoting Mason Raymond from the farm, while Byron Ritchie and Brad Isbister have upped the sandpaper component to a certain extent. But if the Canucks fail to add more offence via the trade route, Nonis will take a deserved amount of heat for his inability to acquire more scoring for a club that is so obviously in need.
All indications suggest that Nonis has made offers for the likes of Tampa Bay’s Brad Richards, but trying and doing are two different things. A playoff run longer than last season could overshadow a lack of a deal, but that seems very unlikely given the quality of competition in the West, and would still lead to questions like, “Could the Canucks have won the Cup if they would have acquired another scorer?” At this point it appears as though Nonis will only receive a passing grade by following through on what he said he would deliver late last spring.