We've already discussed the topic a bit, and Pepper has a more thorough post on it, as does EMac, but as it's August and things sometimes change over time, let's break down the issue a bit more and have at it.
Why Trading Nylander Makes Sense
- It gives a Sergei Fedorov top six minutes with either of the Alexes, both of whom he meshed very well with in D.C. and at Worlds (you don't think the team shelled out $4 million on a third-liner, do you?);
- It gets the Caps under the salary cap with room to spare (depending on what comes back in return) so holes that become apparent during the season can be addressed via trade/free agency, so no should-be rookies are playing in Hershey for financial reasons, etc.;
- It unloads a player who some feel does not fit well in Bruce Boudreau's system; and
- It provides both Boyd Gordon and David Steckel the opportunity to center checking/grind lines, rather than likely relegating Gordon to the press box.
- Nylander has a No Movement Clause, so he would have to request a trade, which he would only do, presumably, if he was concerned about his ice time (and, by extension, stats). But even if he was "stuck" on the third-line, he'd be getting plenty of power play time and have decent wingers at even strength, not to mention the possibility of an injury to Fedorov or Nicklas Backstrom. Besides, can he really be worried about his numbers two-plus seasons before he's once again aUFA?;
- Fedorov is a much better fit in a third-line role at this point in his career;
- If Nylander is traded and Fedorov gets hurt (he has missed between nine and 15 games in each season since the lockout), the Caps are back where they were last January, scrambling for a second-line center. Remember when they tried Gordon there? Not good times;
- If Nylander is traded, who's the second-line center in 2009-10, when the Caps will ostensibly be Cup contenders? Fedorov, FYI, turns 40 in December, 2009; and
- Does this guy (read: his wife) really want to move his family to another city just one year after moving them back to D.C.?
Well, no. Think about it - the Caps (and some potential Nylander suitors) would be wise to wait for Mats Sundin to make up his mind, as his decision will obviously greatly impact the market for aging Swedish pivots, right? Further, any potential suitors most likely want proof that Nylander's shoulder is 100% healthy, which means that any potential Nylander deal probably wouldn't happen until at least late-September, bringing us to our final question: If he's going, where's he going?
Obviously, whomever loses out on Sundin is a likely candidate to be interested, but considering that Nylander's wife nixed her husband signing with Edmonton because it was too far West (among other reasons), perhaps we can eliminate Vancouver from the mix (which is a shame, because Kevin Bieksa is a nice player... just sayin'). Which leaves teams like Montreal, the Rangers and Toronto, I suppose.
Look, I think moving Nylander would be a mistake barring a ridiculous offer (read: Jay Bouwmeester) that won't be made for a guy of his age and with his contract. The team's greatest strength that doesn't wear the number eight - it's depth down the middle - would be decimated in an instant (depending on the return, of course). But you can see some of the rationales for a trade, as well as the timing, all come together into a believeable scenario. We should know one way or another within six weeks.