To generate some discussion, Capitals blogger Steven Hindle threw out an interesting trade idea involving the Toronto Maple Leafs: Michael Nylander. Yes, he’s old (turns 37 in about two weeks). Yes, he’s coming off a brutal 33 point season. Yes, he’s carrying a ridiculous $4.875M cap hit for the next two seasons. But, there is no denying the history of talent and production, including 199 points in 200 games from 2005-2007. Perhaps there is a possible trade fit involving the exchange of some undesirable contracts?
Scanning through the Leafs roster, there are a few immediate names that stick out as ideal candidates to be moved if possible. Jason Blake’s contract runs for another 3 years at $4M/season and Jeff Finger’s played well but at 3 years, $3.5M/season it seems a tad pricey for a third pairing role. Lee Stempniak has shown some promise thus far in camp and has a $2.5M cap hit but a $3.5M salary.
The one trade scenario that intrigues me the most is a straight-up swap of Jason Blake for Michael Nylander. Although Nylander’s a year older and carries a slighter higher cap hit, his contract also comes off the books a year sooner. As a veteran playmaking centre, he’d also be an intriguing fit for Phil Kessel until someone like Nazem Kadri or Tyler Bozak is ready to step up and grab the top pivot role. Is it a risk worth taking?
Last year, Blake scored 18 PP points in 202 PP mins (0.089 PP points/min) and 45 ES points in 1,117 mins (0.040 ES points/min). Those rates equate to a 63 point campaign for Jason.
By comparison, Nylander scored 10 PP points in 160 PP mins (0.063 PP points/min) and 23 ES points in 848 ES mins (0.027 ES points/min). If given the same minutes as Blake, those rates would equate to a 43 point campaign, which is hardly impressive, but it does account for a 10 point increase.
Keep in mind this is the same Nylander who scored 83 points just two years ago, but then again that was the same year Blake potted 40. Realistically speaking, swapping out Blake for Nylander would likely result in a loss of offensive production for the ’09 -’10 campaign, but is it worth it to get out from underneath one extra year? Why is that extra year so important? Because saving $4+ million in cap in 2011 (instead of 2012) means you have a few more dollars to throw at Schenn (who will be an RFA) and Kaberle (who will be a UFA), and who knows what the cap situation could look like by then.
Or perhaps you feel there’s another feasible trade to be worked out for Nylander involving some combination of players or even picks heading back Toronto’s way?