Thursday, November 20, 2008

Where There's Smoke...

When Bob McKenzie reports that "The Chicago Blackhawks, according to multiple NHL sources, have a standing deal ready to go at a moment's notice to acquire veteran center Michael Nylander from the Washington Capitals," and word is that the 'Hawks might go as far as to put Cristobal Huet on waivers to make it happen, it's really time to put aside any notion that there's nothing at all to these rumors (or, for that matter, that Nylander's no movement clause will likely be exercised).

Recent developments (the cap situation and Mike Green's injury, Nylander's entrenchment in Bruce Boudreau's Chez Bow-Wow, the re-emergence of Nicklas Backstrom, the revelation (to me, at least) that Nyls stills owns a home in Chicago, etc.) would seem to make a Nylander move make even more sense. Might the team be better off in the long-run freeing up the cap space to, for example, give Chris Bourque and Karl Alzner roster spots now or to provide needed flexibility down the road? There's only one way to find out, and one gets the feeling that we might be a step closer to that answer sooner rather than later.

40 comments:

FAUX RUMORS said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
FAUX RUMORS said...

1) Yes, understand the 'Where there's smoke' argument, but too many other issues that seem to make this rumor unlikely.
2) Doesn't Nylander have a bunch of kids? Does he want to either uproot his family in the middle of a season, or be apart fro them for long stretches if he has the option to stay put? From a parents perspective can tell ya the answer to that one is easy!
3) The only time that we could see a Nylander acquiescence of a trade would be at the draft/the off season. He doesn't have to go, and he gains NOTHING from moving, so why would he?!?

JP said...

@ Faux ¶3: Maybe he gains ice time, a system that better suits his style, a coach's respect, time away from the wife and kids (j/k... sorta), etc.

Anonymous said...

his whole family doesn't have to move with him right away. many a family can and do work with only one parent around.

what are we expecting in return, realistically?

- NS (can't seem to post with normal ID?)

JP said...

@ NS: Realistically? I think the Caps would take a pick, as the big return would be the cap space a move frees up (would they really want an underperforming $3M Dustin Byfuglien?) - they've got bodies to plug in.

HotDog88GT said...

I kinda hope it's true cause I didn't want him back in WSH to begin with but the guy does have talent (somewhere). I don't know about this - he sure is invisible this year. And I don't think he's ever been 100% after the shoulder surgery.

Anonymous said...

to make is happen! :)

b.orr4 said...

McKenzie has reported this twice and, given how reliable he is, I have to believe there really is something to it now. Even Vogs, on yesterday's Cap Report, admitted there probably is something in the works. The big stumbling block, of course, is moving the Bulin Wall. If they can do that, I think this trade is likely a done deal. I haven't been for this in the past because you can never have too many veteran centers. That said, you can't pay a guy $4.5 million to skate on the fourth line. And frankly, Nyls just doesn't seem to be a Bruce kind of guy. It's too bad because Nylander and his family wanted to be here. I bet the people in Edmonton are smiling.

DMG said...

I'm with you, JP. For a long time I was just thinking there was too much that had to change for Nylander to go to Chicago, but this rumor won't die and I'm wondering if there is any truth to it.

The two names I've heard are Dustin Byfuglien and Brent Sopel. I love Byfuglien, but as this would primarily be a salary cap move and the Capitals are thinner than they want on defense, I'd prefer Sopel.

If the team moves Nylander and picks up Sopel they could promote Alzner and, when healthy, have Green, Poti, Schultz, and Sopel as the top four with Alzner, Sloan, Erskine, Morrisonn and Jurcina providing depth.

What I think this could also do is open up cap space for the long term and give the Caps a chance to make a run at Mathieu Schneider at the trade deadline. Theoretically they could finish the season with a defense of Green, Poti, Schultz, Sopel, Alzner and Schneider, with Erskine and Morrisonn for depth - a group that looks like one that's poised for a long playoff run to me.

Not necessarily likely but it'd be great if the possibility was there.

Keith said...

Re: Time away from his family, don't forget he's traveling half of the season anyway so a little more time away won't be that much tougher.

Drew said...

I'd rather have Cam Barker than Brent Sopel, but that's no shock.

Caps Dreamer said...

The Caps desperately need cap space for some defensive options since they're getting killed with injuries. I also don't think Nyls fits in well with Boudreau's system. I'm hoping it's true!

DMG said...

@ Drew,

I'm heard Barker's name a little, but I can't believe that the Hawks would let him go for Nylander alone.

My research (i.e. google-ing) has turned up a number of rumors saying the Capitals asked for Byfuglien and were denied, which makes sense from the Blackhawks perspective.

I still think that if this does happen Nylander-for-Sopel is most likely, though you have to wonder if the Caps would be wary of those 2M+ cap hit for the next three years.

The Peerless said...

Nylander is 14th on the team in average ice time, 7th among forwards (despite not getting much less PP time than Backstrom).

Aesthetically, it is shocking to see how much Nylander's more deliberate game is at odds with just about the rest of the roster. Things slo-o-o-o-o-w do-o-o-o-wn when he has the puck.

And, it's quite a luxury to be suffering a $4.875 million cap hit for a third line center. The charm of his deal is that Fedorov's contract expires after this year, while Nylander has two more years to run. But while Nylander might have been a good fit last year when signed, he doesn't seem to have a clear role with another coach and another system.

I'm thinking the over-under on this is the Caps' return home...will Nylander be a Cap on November 26th?

Murshawursha said...

I'm still not sure I want to see Nyls go... I feel like part of the reason he's not producing as much is because at the moment he's stuck on forth line duty... And hadn't he been playing with Clark quite a bit before that? Because I feel like Clark lately has actually been dragging down his linemates (though he looked pretty good in Anaheim IMO)

Plus, what do we do when Feds' contract expires next year? Keep Laich as our no. 2 center?

JP said...

@ Peerless: Well, we know that GMGM isn't afraid to make a splash on Turkey Day...

Whale4ever said...

Anything that gets the old boy closer to Edmonton.

Sombrero Guy said...

I was strongly entrenched in the keep Nylander camp when these rumors started popping up in training camp...possibly before.

Now? I'm not so sure. It is a nice luxury to have a player of Nylander's caliber, but if he is having serious personality issues with Bruce, and if he isn't buying into the system then maybe we would be better off letting someone like Chris Bourque get called up. Build some cap room for the trade deadline and make a move for a playoff run.

At this point I am not advocating to trade the man, but I won't be livid if it happens.

Sombrero Guy said...

Also why did Fehr get less than 10 minutes last night?

bigonetimer said...

Not a fan of this trade for two reasons: quality center depth is a supreme luxury and subtracting Nyls diminishes that strength; and, I'm not so sure Feds is going to make it through the entire season at C. Is everyone really ready for Dave Steckel getting 18-19 minutes?

I'm not necessarily buying the depth of the "doghouse" Nyls is in with BB either (see Steve Eminger for what that really looks like), but he doesn't match up so well with the BB system, so I get the arguments for the trade. But we need to get something more than a pick and cap space for this to make sense. Since it's not going to be a young offensive talent like Patrick Sharp, it'd better be a young, cheap SOH D-man like Cam Barker.

sk84fun_dc said...

Agree, the Green injury last night just highlights the cap quandry for the Caps. Hopefully, if Morrisonn (or Fedorov) plays tonight, it is because the player is ready to return and not because they are down to 5 dmen. Seems there is a chance the Caps could play with 17 skaters tonight.

Reading some of the comments about Nylander and moving...as people have pointed out before, Nylander having an NMC doesn't mean he won't switch teams, it just means he has some control regarding the destination. From all indications, Chicago is a destination the Nylander's would find acceptable and, as JP points out, have a place to stay. And to some other comments, a family doesn't have to uproot the day of the trade, a move can wait until an upcoming school break, for example.

Given the timeline, hopefully, this gets resolved soon for the benefit of the hockey team and the player and his family, whether it ends up being Chicago or elsewhere. There are pros and cons to the cap space needs and this season vs the center depth issues going forward, but watching the first month plus of the season, I am more on board to the idea of a Nylander trade than I was before.

OT: Based on my notes and waiver rule understanding, Sloan has played in his 10th NHL game and will have to clear waivers to be sent to the AHL, so I expect to see the Caps carrying 7 dmen for now.

Ogre said...

Fehr only got 10 minutes because he's not that good a forward yet.

Tyler said...

Faux(es) is right: GMGM hasn't made a deal including the Nylander kids. Maybe Khabibulin could send a couple of his kids to DC for the Nylander kids.

The deal is effectively Nyls for Byfuglien, Alzner and Bourque. No brainer.

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

This is happening folks, there's no returning from the point we're at. Re/the family situation. Yes, it's tough, and might mean extended time away from the fam for a few months. These guys are paid $5 mil per and a few lifestyle accommodations are expected. "Daddy's got to go on a business trip for 10 days, but you're set for life financially..." Yeah. :-)

More to the point, Nylander has pride. He doesn't want to stay somewhere he doesn't fit, isn't wanted and embarrasses himself. Remember, he was part of "The Rebuild is Over: Starring Glen Hanlon."

I would give him away, were it legal.

Anonymous said...

Byfuglien = Clark ouster?
or just more depth at RW?

I can't believe GMGM would trade Nylander for just a pick.

if the Caps have come this far with the Blackhawks, you can bet your ass they have already spoken to Nylander about it. That NMC might already be a non-issue...

- NS

MacVechkin, fka JR said...

NS -> in the salcap era 'just a pick' isn't a bad thing. What is the market for Nylander? There is none, unless we trade him for equal salary that other teams don't want. That scenario is not nearly as attractive to the Caps. We can do a lot more with the $3.5 mil or so we'll get back on the salcap than taking on other teams 'deadwood'. ((SEMIN/DEADWOOD reference))

jason said...

Let me just say that I am ok with this move. Nylander for cap space, Alzner, and Chris Bourque alone is enough for me at this point, because I think we have guys in Hershey that have NHL talent. If we can get a Sopel or Byfuglien in return, so much the better, though that does offset the cap savings. I think we are just fine with Backstrom, Fedorov, Laich, and Steckel down the middle, though an injury to Backstrom or Feds would tighten things a lot.

Also, just to throw this out there, if all the Caps get back is a pick, that gives them the potential ability to make a play for someone at the deadline or even one of the unsigned vets out there. I don't think we need to bring in more age in the form of a Sundin or Shanahan (not that it's a serious possibility anyway), but a pickup like a Schneider or some other veteran center at the deadline at a rent-a-player rate would be an appealing option.

I can't shake the feeling that this will happen, it's just a question of what we get in return.

norske said...

JP, this isn't meant as a rant at you, since you just needed a title, but I have long thought that "Where there's smoke, there's fire" is the single dumbest cliche used in hockey, and it's repeated ridiculously often.

What usually happens is that one source will publish a rumor, and then ten other places will repeat it. Most people then see that as 11 sources for the rumor, when in fact, there is still only one source plus lots of repetition. What people see as "smoke" is just lots of meaningless, repetitious verbiage of no consequence.

/rant

JP said...

@ Norske: It could be... but I don't think it is. This isn't Garrioch, Brooks, Eklund et. al. reporting - it's from more reputable sources (plural) and, unlike many of the crap those rumor mongers push, it makes a ton of sense.

wittcap79 said...

Barker or bust, Byfuglien's a bitch. (I'm always adamant about abusing alliteration.)

DMG said...

Not a fan of this trade for two reasons: quality center depth is a supreme luxury and subtracting Nyls diminishes that strength; and, I'm not so sure Feds is going to make it through the entire season at C. Is everyone really ready for Dave Steckel getting 18-19 minutes?

I think Laich would be moved to center for the forseeable future were Nylander moved.

Byfuglien = Clark ouster?
or just more depth at RW?


My guess is more that Byfuglien would make Fehr expendable since he's a big right wing with a decent scoring touch. That, plus the fact that Fehr gets less than ten minutes in the few games he does play makes me wonder if it will wind up being Fehr and Nylander for Byfuglien.

wittcap79 said...

@DMG

Why? There is no need to give up Fehr at all. They better get someone better than DB if we're giving up something that A)Chicago desperately needs, and we have. B) A former 1st Rd pick who is still only 23? Both for Dustin, really? I can see Barker in that trade, but not DB.

jh said...

I don't think a trade can happen unless a third team is involved. Nylander for whomever straight up or a package just isn't palatable enough, and the Hawks are too close to the cap to pick him up for draft picks alone. Salary needs to be shed and it will not be by waiving Huet. As much as I respect journalists like McKenzie and the Hawks' writer Sassone, they're falling prey to random fan speculation. I mean, McKenzie just wrote a piece about Gaborik's imminent trade despite all the logic saying the opposite. There's too much back story (at least from the Hawks' side) to get into it, but don't expect a trade to happen between just the two teams. There'd have to be a third party.

By the way Wittcap79, you'll be glad to know the Caps had asked for Byfuglien and the Hawks said no. Offensively he's starting slow, but there's too much power forward/bruising defense potential for them to give up on him.

b.orr4 said...

@norske: If American political journalists were as responsible and diligent in their jobs as Bob McKenzie, we'd all be a lot better off. If it were Garrioch or Brooks, you're argument would apply but not when the source is McKenzie. He almost never goes off half-cocked. And don't forget, this is the second time he written about this possible trade. I'm almost 100% sure there's something going on.

wittcap79 said...

Well that's the problem. If I'm the Caps I ask for more than DB. Much rather have Barker, 10 times outta 10. I don't see what DB brings to the table anymore than anyone else we have. 20g ok, big forward ok, last time I checked, that IS Eric Fehr (assuming he gets regular minutes), for about $2M less per season.

norske said...

@JP and B.Orr4 -- I could definitely have been more clear about ths, but I wasn't really aiming that rant specifically at the Nylander stories. It's a general, long term pet peeve of mine, and when I saw the line, it spilled. My apologies.

Sam said...

trade nylander, pick up huet off waivers? i like the sound of that

DMG said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
DMG said...

@ wittcap79,

I think you're overvaluing Fehr. Yes, he is a 23 year old former first round draft pick - but Sasha Pokulok will be a 23 year old former first rounder in May. At this point it isn't about where you were drafted, it's about what you're doing.

The comparison you're making between Fehr and DB really doesn't hold up in my eyes. Byfuglien has 21 goals in his last 84 NHL games, whereas Fehr has four goals in 56 career NHL games and two in his last 31. Sure, ice time plays a role but Fehr's seen 314 minutes in the last two years and is scoring at a rate of once every 157 minutes. At that rate, even if he got 15 minutes a game (1,230 minutes), he'd still only have eight goals. To me, that's not enough to say he'd be a twenty goal guy if he just got the minutes. For comparison, Byfuglien's scored once every 66 minutes over the last two years and once every 44 minutes on the powerplay.

Offensive production aside, Fehr's a fairly big guy at ~210 pounds but Byfuglien's 245. That 35 pounds is the same as the difference between Donald Brashear and Boyd Gordon. That's a lot more to deal with in front of the net and in the corners.

I like Fehr and I agree that there's no inherent need to move him. However, I disagree that there's no reason to move him if the team wants Byfuglien since (word is, at least) the Blackhawks turned down Nylander for Byfuglien. If they had accepted, Byfuglien would come in ahead of Fehr on the depth chart and you have to think it'd be awfully hard to find time for someone who's only played in 8 of 18 games for his team and averages 9:56 of ice time when he does play.

If the Capitals wanted Byfuglien and offering Nylander wasn't enough I think the question isn't "why Fehr?" it's "why not Fehr?"

To me the biggest problems with Byfuglien would be (1) he's got a three year extension at three million per that kicks in next year and (2) the Capitals need help at defense more than anywhere else.

Personally I like either acquiring Sopel or trading Nylander for a pick in a salary dump, promoting Alzner, and seeing how the defense looks for the time being.

bkblades said...

While Byfuglien has played forward for the majority, if not all his time as forward this year, Byfuglien can and has played defence in the past. If I'm not mistaken, he broke into the league as a defenceman, and it's his versatility that makes him a pretty intriguing commodity.

If the Caps want more depth on the backline with a bit of offensive upside to boot, you could do a lot worse than Byfuglien. He's certainly better than Sopel at this point of their careers.