(UPDATED: This post was revised at 815pm on Sunday now that the Nylander loan is official)
Washington Capitals General Manager George McPhee has finalized a standard loan deal that sends forward Michael Nylander to Grand Rapids of the American Hockey League. The Caps are still on the hook to pay #92′s salary ($5.5M this year), but they were already pretty much resigned to doing that, however, the big benefit is in salary cap relief and given that the Swedish forward carries a $4.875M cap figure and there are 49 games left this season that frees up over $2.5M of space.
Now that McPhee has that kind of financial room he can do a number of things, to include any of the following:
1. Permanently call up defenseman Karl Alzner and his $1.6+M prorated salary cap hit to the NHL for the rest of the season (Washington was 5-0 when #27 was up with the big club and the team played some great defensive hockey during that stint).
2. Acquire other players now or at the trade deadline to help with depth and put this team over the top for what promises to be a long playoff run (remember the Penguins added Bill Guerin at the NHL trade deadline after he was rumored to be heading to DC, and #13 played a role in Pittsburgh winning the Stanley Cup).
Possibilities for acquisitions include:
- Acquire an enforcer to help protect the Caps top players. Just last night and on Friday evening there were a few runs at defenseman Mike Green (including a punch to the head by Andrew Alberts of Carolina) and Alexander Semin is often targeted for rough play by opponents and his health is paramount to a Caps long playoff run. And don’t forget the cheap shots the Columbus Blue Jackets pulled on Alexander Ovechkin on November 1st that cost him 6 games in the line-up.
- Add another defenseman to their roster.
- Bring in a veteran goalie to go with Semyon Varlamov should Jose Theodore continue to struggle and Michael Neuvirth not learn to produce at the NHL level. Given Varlamov’s injury history relying totally on him in the playoffs could be a risk.
Of course McPhee, like he did last year, could do nothing at all. One thing is for sure though, the GM now has more flexibility to decide what could best help this team win a Stanley Cup with Nylander officially off of the salary cap books.
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