Last season, the Caps almost rid themselves of the man the team's fans love to hate. The Caps were close to trading center Michael Nylander to the Blackhawks last Thanksgiving for goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, according to Larry Brooks.
Oh, what could've been!
Had the trade gone through, it would've been a strange sort of goalie swap for the Caps. Jose Theodore had struggled early in the season and nobody was seriously considering Mr. Varlamov yet.
Getting the 'Bulin Wall would've given the Caps some depth by an accomplished goalie -- one, who eventually took his team to the Conference Finals, as it were.
From the Hawks side, it would've cleared space for last year's Caps goalie, Crissy Huet, to take over.
But the real benefit to the Caps would've been the removal of Nylander -- and his contract -- from the roster. Saying that Nylander's performance was lackluster is probably about the best thing you can say.
He has two seasons left with over $9 million on his contract. He has a no-movement clause in his deal, but at that price, who'd want him anyway?
How bad was he? Japers' Rink sums it up:
"Despite skating more frequently at even strength with Alex Ovechkin and Nicklas Backstrom than with any other linemates, Nylander's per-game goal and assist rates were cut in half from the prior season and he posted the fewest points-per-game of any season in his career in which he played at least 34 games (and the fewest this century). How bad was Nylander's production? Viktor Kozlov had more than 33% more points-per-game, David Steckel scored more even strength goals, and Sami Lepisto, Milan Jurcina and Bryan Helmer all had more points per sixty minutes of five-on-four ice time than Nyls did."
Brooks' report says that the Hawks team president smartly vetoed the deal, effectively neutering Dave Tallon, the team's GM. When the team screwed up paperwork related to arbitration cases for a bunch of young players (effectively costing the team a few million bucks), that was the last straw. Tallon was out.
Caps fans just wish that Tallon had more authority all along. Meanwhile, they'll console themselves with Nyles' healthy scratches and 9 minutes of unproductive ice time for the next two seasons.