Wednesday, October 08, 2008

2008-2009 Previews: Michael Nylander

Next up…

Michael Nylander

Last Year: 40 games, 11-26-37, -19

Career average (per-82 games): 19-43-62, +7

Feerless’ Take: For a guy who played only half a season – and a good portion of that with an injury that eventually sidelined him – he scored at a pace that justified his signing. The pace he was on (23-53-76) would have exceeded his career averages in goal, assists, and points; and it would have been comparable to his best years, spent with the Rangers. He was especially effective on the power play, where his five goals and 13 assists put him on a pace to finish second on the team in goals (10) and tops in assists (27), if projected over a full season. He was on a pace to match the 37 total power play points that Alex Ovechkin had to lead the team. In terms of what Nylander was signed to do, he largely delivered in his abbreviated season.

Cheerless’ Take: The 500-pound gorilla in the room is that other number…-19. If you’re talking about “pace,” cuz, that was a number on a pace for -39. That would have been worst in the league by a country mile (Radek Bonk finished -31). Nylander was -14 at home, which is a stunning number. That “pace” (-29) was almost bad enough to be worst without playing a road game. As it was, he was next to last among all NHLers in home plus-minus (Matt Stajan was -17 in 82 games). You could argue that much of his problem was a byproduct of the torn rotator cuff that would end his season (he played six weeks with the injury and was in a position where he was unable to practice, according to reports), but now he has to come back from that injury.

The Peerless Take: Nylander has shown himself to be a fairly reliable scorer in his career – he has never finished a season with fewer than 50 points in a season in which he played at least 65 games (he’s done that six times). Only once did he score less than 60 points in such a season. What’s more, he has never finished such a season on this minus side of the ledger. Nylander is another “free agent” in that how he fits into the Caps’ scheme of things is a considerable unknown. In 19 games under coach Bruce Boudreau, he was 6-12-18, -11. He had six multi-point games in that stretch. The -11 is a flashing light that indicates “injury.” He was just not able to provide much resistance in the defensive end tending to his responsibilities. His history suggests that will be corrected, if he’s healthy. But it is that 18 points in 19 games that is most intriguing. One school of thought argues that Nylander’s east-west, peel off and set things up style is fundamentally at odds with Boudreau’s north-south, press the issue style. The results suggest that there is a common ground here. What seems as likely as not to affect his numbers is not the lingering effects of the injury as much as the ice time he might get in a crowded group of Capital scoring forwards.

Projected: 17-35-52, -2

No comments: