Quite often this year the subject of Michael Nylander's status on the Caps has been bandied about (most recently, and quite graciously as a comment on my last post). Originally, the appeal of moving Nylander, or "Circles" as a friend of mine calls him, was based on the organizational depth at center the team is blessed with. After the atrocious performance of Jose Theodore at the beginning of the season it was only natural for the Khabibulin question to come up.
There are so many facets to consider on this one, and I'll do my best to point them out. Maybe at the end of this post I'll have settled in on what I really think about this idea.
Firstly, there is the issue of the "no movement" clause in his contract. I'm pretty sure we can dispose of that barrier out of hand. I'd have to think, in the post Wirtz era in Chicago, even I'd accept a trade to the Hawks. He's been there before in his career, and I'm sure he'd recieve a warm reception.
Then, there's the consideration of the Capital's goaltending position. It's been documented right here in this blog how I thought of Theodore's performance in October. He didn't get the nickname in Colorado of "Jose Three-or-more" for no reason. But the reality is that he went further in the playoffs last season in a tougher conference than Huet did, and was very solid at the end of last season. Did his turnaround in November indicate that he's acclimating to his new "D" and returning to form? Can Brent Johnson maintain the level that he's exhibited so far?
Could Khabibulin add more to the goal than would be subtracted by losing a veteran forward?
From a salary and term-length perspective I can see some value in making this move, so what it boils down to is this: Chicago and Washington both have designs on making a run at the Cup this year. Would this move strengthen the position of the club right now?
This brings up another reason that trading Nylander has been a hot topic as of late.
He's playing like a bucket full of ass.
He has very little speed left, and he doesn't seem to have any awareness that the other team has a goal to shoot at. But what he has, and cannot use right now, is imagination. With the abscence of Semin, Green, and Federov, relentless effort trumps finesse with the Caps. Someone who's playing chess looks very out-of-place alongside a bunch of guys playing rugby.
However, bring back some of those other guys and Nylander begins to fit more into the equation. I'd hate to see the Caps come up short in the playoffs this year because they were one veteran play short of victory. Finishers need passes.
So I guess, now that I'm at the end of this post, I've arrived at the conclusion that I'm OK with riding Johnny and Theo into May and hopefully June. Good thing they don't leave these decisions up to me....