Michael Nylander scored 33 points in 72 games for the Caps last season and has a cap hit of $4.875 million for this season and next. (Photo by Mike Stobe/NHLI via Getty Images)
Michael Nylander’s days with the Washington Capitals, and possibly the NHL, may be numbered.
The Washington Post reported last week coach Bruce Boudreau said the club was working on “something” regarding Nylander, who didn’t participate in any of the Capitals’ pre-season games and was a healthy scratch in their season-opener against Boston.
Boudreau said he was hopeful there would be a resolution soon. Prior to training camp, it was believed the Capitals were working on transferring Nylander to a Kontinental League club, but those talks have apparently come to naught.
The veteran center has two seasons at $4.875 million per remaining on his contract and carries a no-movement clause. Factor in his age (37) and moving him won’t be easy.
Forget about a demotion to the minors, because he’ll quickly overrule that with his no-movement clause. While a trade is possible, a transfer to a European club might be Washington’s only reasonable alternative.
• The Montreal Canadiens could be in the market for more blueline depth in the wake of Andrei Markov’s ankle injury that will sideline him for three to four months.
The Denver Post wondered if Markov’s injury might create an opportunity for a trade between the Habs and Avalanche, listing Ruslan Salei, former Hab Brett Clark and Scott Hannan (despite his no-trade clause) as possibilities.
La Presse – citing the St. Petersburg Times – noted the Tampa Bay Lightning are entering this season with nine defensemen and puck-mover Lukas Krajicek and his $1.475 million salary might be available.
Another Habs defenseman, Ryan O’Byrne, was knocked out of the lineup on the weekend for six weeks with a leg injury, further stoking trade rumors. Still, the Montreal Gazette suggested Canadiens management might, for now, be patient with the current group of defensemen rather than rush out to make a trade.
The club’s recalling of defenseman Yannick Weber suggests they will look to within to bolster the blueline ranks for the time being.
If the Canadiens decide to trade for a defenseman, they might consider shopping disgruntled forward Sergei Kostitsyn, who requested a trade after being suspended without pay for refusing to report to the Habs’ American League affiliate in Hamilton.
The younger of the Kostitsyn Bros. incurred the wrath of Canadiens coach Jacques Martin for not following directions during training camp, specifically his lack of attention to defense, which is a big no-no under Martin’s system.
On his own, Kostitsyn might not be enough to land an experienced puck-moving blueliner, so it would likely take a package of the 22-year-old with another player, pick or prospect to accomplish that.
Meanwhile, GM Bob Gainey declined to say if he’ll move Kostitsyn and doesn’t believe he’ll jump to the KHL, preferring to continue his career in North America.
And, no, trading Sergei won’t force his talented older brother Andrei to also request a trade from the Canadiens, although shopping both in a package deal might certainly attract some interest.
• Keep an eye on the New York Rangers this season as they could be in the market for defensive depth.
Prior to the start of the season, the New York Post reported the Rangers lack an experienced shutdown D-man and were hoping young Dan Girardi could step up into that role, although his play during pre-season doesn’t bode well.
The Rangers are also in the market for a seventh defenseman since the contract they recently signed with Alexei Semonov was nixed by the blueliner’s wife.
Goaltender Henrik Lundqvist’s performance will cover for many of the potential gaffes of the Rangers defense, but at some point this will be an issue they’ll have to address.
Rumor Roundup appears Mondays and Thursdays only on thehockeynews.com. Lyle Richardson has been an NHL commentator since 1998 on his website, spectorshockey.net, and is a contributing writer for Foxsports.com and Eishockey Magazine.