Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Trading Nylander

Michael Nylander to Vancouver. Michael Nylander to New Jersey. Michael Nylander to New York. Michael Nylander to anywhere. If I had a dollar for every Nylander trade rumor or theory I've read this summer, I could buy a nice house in Potomac.

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.
Why Trading Nylander Makes No Sense
  • 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.?
All of the above raises a question: Since the Fedorov and Mike Green signings are the primary reasons Nylander is thought to be expendable (the former due to ice time and role and both due to the financial implications), why hasn't he been traded yet if he's going to be moved? Doesn't the inaction mean he's going to stick around for a while?

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.

21 comments:

Tyler said...

I think that the reasons to keep Nylander are by far the most persuasive. You have to have depth and skill up the middle -- especially in the East. To give up on that would be... puzzling. Especially if PHL ends up with Mats.

The Peerless said...

I don't think Nylander will be moved, precisely because a team needs to be strong down the middle (and that lack of desire to go west).

If he was to be moved, though, I'm not surprised it hasn't happened yet. Injuries happen, and they can happen in camp just as easily as during the season. If he were to have been moved by now, or was to be moved now, the Caps would be in quite a fix if either of their remaining top two centers were to catch the injury bug at camp.

FAUX RUMORS said...

1) If the Caps are going to deal a forward to clear up cap space it would make more sense to rid themselves of Kozlov. His post season numbers alone should be cause.
2) He'd also he easier to unload with only a year remaining, and 2.5 mil isn't bloated for his regular season production

Tyler said...

No surprise: Trading Kozlov doesn't make a lot of sense. The Caps have a system-wide deficit of NHL-ready RWs. He's affordable, he has an expiring contract, he's good for 50-60 points, and he's the best defender on that line.

Hooks Orpik said...

I don't see the Caps trading Nylander. As mentioned he holds the cards with having the no movement clause.

JP mentioned maybe Nylander would be concerned about his ice-time and stats, but I don't see that either. This is a guy who's about to turn 36 years old and still has 3 more years on his deal. He's likely not playing for another contract. And besides, with his skillset, he's not a 3rd line center.

At the end of the day the problem of having too much center depth is a good one to have. As mentioned, injuries could always factor in too and turn a perceived strength into a weakness in a hurry.

I think the Caps hold pat.

Sombrero Guy said...

Well argued, and you count count me among those hoping the "why trading Nylander makes no sense" arguments win out.

With Fedorov aging and only under contract for one season, Nylander at 4.875 is probably a lot cheaper than a similar producing Center would cost us next summer on the open market.

billy said...

You nailed it again, JP.

I really don't like the idea of counting on Fedorov for 80 games of top-6 minutes. As you say, Boyd Gordon is not a 2nd line center.

Anonymous said...

the biggest problems I see in dealing Nylander revolve around JP's critical point of an instant lack of depth at C, and the return we would have to get to justify the trade. The latter may be worked around, but the former is a killer.

Assuming he waives the NMC, from a simple salary cap point of view, multiple draft picks (or a first rounder alone) is a solution to consider. But, IMO, it hurts the club in the immediate term--sorry, Boyd Gordon moving up the depth chart is not going to cut it.

The other option is to get a good center relatively cheaply in return, but which of these potential trade partners is going to give up such a player that makes sense for us? I would find it hard to believe MON parting with Chris Higgins; ditto VAN and Ryan Kesler, the Rangers and Dubinsky, and TOR and Antropov (though TOR becomes an interesting trade partner if the Sundin/Favre train leaves town).

Perhaps at the trade deadline, we'll know whether it's the right move (and whether Nyls is a "good fit" for the BB system, which I believe he is), but for now the Caps have to stand pat, barring a serious lapse in judgment on the part of another GM.

bigonetimer said...

**signed

Daniel said...

One thing to consider is that this may be the last chance the Caps get to trade him. Turning 38 with 2 years and $9+ mil left on a contract is going to impede any movement next season if there is any dropoff or injury this year.

Don't get me wrong, I think trading him this season would be a mistake at this point -- but his contract is more likely to be an albatross than valuable in the next two years.

-d

Ogre said...

Isn't Antropov making 6.1 million a year? Trading for him certainly wouldn't help out.

bigonetimer said...

per NHLNumbers.com, Antropov is making 2.15M (with a cap hit this year of 2.05M)

exwhaler said...

>>>"The Caps have a system-wide deficit of NHL-ready RWs."

Andrew Gordon and Bouchard may be not ready now, but they're getting close, and they're probably ready now to jump in case of injury. If Clark is ready to go, then Kozlov is the most expendable on this roster with a sizable contract. Especially since he didn't experience the "Ovie boost" to his points or goal scoring (16 for a top line winger isn't something to crow about) that Clark and Zubrus did.

Gordon's flexiblity to play center and RW may be his saving grace in terms of playing time. Fedorov, at his age, is not capable of top line minutes for a full season, so Gabby will be managing his time carefully. That means he can rotate in and out of lines, subbing for Feds, Fehr, Steckel, and Bradley depending on the teams they're playing. If he winds up a bench player because of the center crunch, I don't think it means he won't be playing much.

Vlad said...

Its difficult to be a contender with albratross contracts. You can't rely on a 38-yr old center to carry your 2nd line. Maybe two of them can get it done, but at a combined 9M a year, its way too much.

If the Caps can trade Nylander, they should, before he becomes unmovable..even if it means less success this year. With what they get back, they should have enough assets to trade for a solid young two-way center.

Ari said...

The main reason not to trade him is that *inevitably* some top forward will be injured this year. The thinner you are on offense, the less you can absorb that setback.

And what's that about not being a contender with old dudes on the roster? Gary Roberts and Chris Chelios didn't seem to keep Pitt and Detroit from contending last year. I think Nylander - even in a couple years - would be a very significant piece of a Cup-contending puzzle.

exwhaler said...

>>"Its difficult to be a contender with albratross contracts. You can't rely on a 38-yr old center to carry your 2nd line. "

Like Fedorov? :-)

The last year of Nylander's contract creates some flexiblity for moving him: it doesn't have a NMC that season, and Nyls is paid $3 million that year. I think that both the player and the team know that around that time, the Caps could be shopping him. Now, however, would not be a good time, especially considering that his trade value is lower than it should be because he missed half of last season with an injury and hasn't taken the ice yet to prove he's back completely. He's a buy low option now, considering his talent.

tg said...

Couple thoughts.

First, I really think everyone needs to stop thinking if he's a "second line" or "third line" center. Mainly because the connotation is that traditionally you've got two scoring lines, a checking line and a crash-and-bang line. But the way this team is being set up, you've really got three scoring lines and a checking line. Can Fedorov/Nylander center a scoring line? I think so. At least if you rest them some during those three games in four night stretches.

I totally agree that Nylander doesn't fit well with the Alexes (but was a great fit with Jagr). But instead, imagine him with Clark, Gordon, Fehr, Laich, etc. on his wings. Someone who doesn't necessarily go 100 mph but can be in the right place to receive a great pass. Kinda like how Oates meshed with Dahlen better than Bondra. Nothing wrong with that, just a different style of play.

I also agree that trading him now is trading him at the low point of his value as he's coming off of injury and everyone knows that you're over the cap and need to make some type of move. It's never a good idea to trade from a point of weakness...if you can help it.

Plus, if they keep him, for the first time in memory they'll be able to put two verifiable power play lines out there (without Ovechkin having to play the full 2 minutes).

Anonymous said...

JP, why do you think Nyles won't fit with BB's system?

JP said...

@ Anon: I think Nylander can and would fit into Bruce's system just fine. Some people disagree, and I linked to OFB's pucksnbooks as one of those people.

I guess to that extent, it doesn't necessarily belong under "Why Trading Nylander Makes Sense" in my opinion, but it would if some other folks made the list.

breed16 said...

Agree with Faux, if there's a contract on the chopping block it's Kozlov's. But I don't see any significant moves happening until the season is underway. McPhee still has high hopes for Fehr (or maybe that's just me projecting), and if he emerges Kozlov immediately becomes expendable.

The "Nylander doesnt fit the system" argument is nonsense. Just because he likes to circle with the puck he can't help the Caps? Um...isn't puck possession important too? And what the hell do we fans know about the system anyways, let alone the complex nuances of center play within it, let alone Nylander's abilities or adaptability? Also, no one seems to remember this, but Nyls was by far our best playoff performer against Tampa in 02-03. If that's the Nylander we get for the coming postseasons...whew.

Andrew Conlin said...

I agree Kozlov could be the logical choice to go, but there's another reason Nylander could be seen (arguably) as expendable that hasn't been mentioned. Nylander's absence still leaves the Caps with several options at center, including Kozlov. VK was Bure's center at times in Florida and began last year in the middle of Backstrom (LW) and Semin (RW). Laich can also play center if need be. Obviously, neither are ideal pivots and their faceoff skills are a big drop off from Steckel, Gordon and Fedorov. Still, Nylander is not as essential as some believe. The Big Run was accomplished without him...