Tuesday, January 06, 2009

Bad Fit?

What do we make of The Curious Case of the Neglected Nylander?

Here is a player who coming into this season built a solid career for himself. Over 15 seasons he had a per-82 game line of 19-43-62, +7. He'd actually done better in each of his two seasons with the New York Rangers, eclisping all of these averages, before signing with Washington in the summer of 2007. He had the kind of numbers you'd like in a scoring line center. He was injured for most of last year, but you'd have thought his return would be a big plus.

Then the curtain rose on this season. So far, Nylander is 3-15-18, +3, in 39 games, but his recent performance is somewhat alarming for its utter lack of presence. Since Thanksgiving (18 games), he is 1-4-5, +4. His single goal was a game winner -- a fine effort, scoring while almost flat on his back against Montreal. However, outside of that his performance has blended so far into the background as to be almost invisible. He has four multi-point games this year, none since November 19th (he had 20 multi-point games in his final year in New York).

He's averaged 14:49 in ice time, which is good for only 19th on the team. There are five call-ups from Hershey (albeit all of them defensemen) who have higher averages. In four of the last five games, his ice time was lower than his season average.

We don't think Nylander has forgotten how to play hockey and play it at a high level. We don't know if there are any lingering effects from the injuries he suffered from last year. It might just be a case of being something less than the best fit for this team and the way it goes about playing the game these days.

With Sergei Fedorov coming back soon, the Capitals are going to be facing some interesting and perhaps difficult personnel decisions. We can't help but wonder if, despite still having the talent to contribute and there being risks that might ensue for the Caps (Fedorov's health foremost), such decisions won't finally -- as rumors have had it for most of the season -- involve Nylander.


nuftjedi said...

I don't dislike the guy, but I think moving him and his cap hit is the best thing for the team....

even if we don't get equal value back - keeping up Alzner, plus having room to pick up someone at the trade deadline = more value than what Nylander brings.

breed16 said...

I actually think Morrisson is the guy going out the door, for the simple fact that Nylander's contract might be impossible to move right now. I mean, unless we take someone else's albatross contract back, what team would take him on, that has cap room?

Hooks Orpik said...

Good point Breed, plus Nylander would have to waive his NTC to go. A team like Columbus could sure use a skilled center, but would YOU want to go to Ohio?

The Peerless said...

Having driven across that barren landscape too many times to remember, I can say that the only beings fit to travel there are astronauts in training and Buckeye fans.

As for Nylander and his NTC, it might be as much as the Caps putting greater weight on the cap freedom moving him would bring than on return. They might accept a deal from an acceptable (to Nylander) team of lesser hockey value to free up space.

Matthew said...

I think one very important piece of the puzzle was missed in the post. I am in no way trying to say that the guys should or should not be traded. Infact, I think he, above any other player, has the most benefit to the caps if he's moved. However, I feel it would be a bad move and put us in a position where we have to rely on Sergei's health or Laich/Stecks/Gordo/Kozzie to center a 2nd line. That's not a recipe for success.

The point I think many people miss when discussing trading Nylander not how poorly he's playing or how much, it's who he's playing with. He's spent time on a line with just about every forward the caps have minus Fedorov. For comparison, Backstrom has had Ovie for just about the whole season. Fedorov had Semin before both were hurt. I'd like to think we could have kept a 14/92/? line together (and when 14/92/16 was on the ice, it was good) but alas, with all the line shuffling and injuries, Nyls has not had a stead line combo to rely on. I'd love to see us get back to 14/92/16, start seeing nyls produce at a 0.5 point/game pace. I think a lot of the trade talk would go away.

Anonymous said...

I concur that moving Nylander is going to be exceedingly difficult and unlikely to happen. Same goes for JT, though he's obviously playing better. I'm thinking Kozie might be the one to go. He's a nice player with an affordable salary for someone else to take on.